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I was traveling into a country that I’d never been. So of course I needed a map to direct me to find the best route. So I went to a likely looking store, and talked to a man behind the counter who assured me that he had just the map for my needs. It was, he assured me, a shortcut that was only given to special insiders. And after looking me over, he had decided that I qualified, and was willing to share it with me for free as long as I sent him some referrals. Not knowing any better, I agreed and started off on my journey.

I didn’t know that I had taken the first step of what would end up being a lonely, painful ‘adventure’ and a lifetime journey of loneliness and being lied to by folks that I trusted.

At first, my route seemed to run with all the other traffic on the interstate until I came to my exit, labeled ‘Separation Road’.  I was to take this exit in order to gain an amazing short cut to my goal. The exit road started out fairly smooth, but soon turned into a gravel road that led me directly away from my friendly convoy I had been traveling with. I noticed in my rear view mirror that several of my convoy friends seemed to be pointing and laughing at me for taking this exit. I felt kind of bad, but tried to ignore them because I was assured that I had ‘superior knowledge’ to what they knew.

Continuing along down Separation Road, I noticed the landscape started becoming much less green rolling fields and started turning into a rocky flat dry landscape. Didn’t look like there were any places to find shade, or have fun running barefoot through cool grass. In fact, it struck me that my car was the only one on this road, and I started wondering where the next gas station might be.

My car started feeling old as it continued down this increasingly bumpier road. Now I was definitely driving through a hot, dry desert. Alone.

Happily, I came upon a gas station that rather looked as if it had been built from another era. The building was shabby, in need of paint, and the gas pumps were very slow, but at least they worked. As they were slowly filling my car’s gas tank up, I slowly ambled inside, and looked around a bit. It looked to me as if I’d walked back in time. There was an old-time pop machine that dispensed 10 oz glass bottles of pop, there was dust on the cardboard and metal oil cans for sale.  Looking up, I saw a couple of water stained, warped ceiling tiles that had not been replaced.

I couldn’t help but wander up to the old grizzly owner of the place and ask about the history. He told me that this station had been a hive of bustling activity right around the late 1940’s, and through the early 1960’s, but when the interstate came, his business had all but died away. It looked like it!

Pulling out my map, I asked where I was, and if the map was still in date. The old man looked at my map, squinted a bit, then with a smile, said “I ain’t seen one of these in a long time! Yeah. . .you’re on the right track. Jest keep a’goin’ on the road that y’all are on.” I thanked him, paid him for the gas, hung up the ancient pump handle, and drove off to my unseen destination.

The dust rose, the car air conditioner struggled to cope with the heat. I couldn’t help but notice that I was completely alone on this road that seemed to go on forever without anything new, or much of anything alongside this road. It struck me that I was missing out on enjoying a lot of rest stops, restaurants, and interesting sights to see. But, no matter, I had a ‘better map’ that was only given to the select few insiders! I was very privileged to have been given this map!

My road started into some very rocky harsh looking mountains and started a very winding, steep climb. My car overheated, and literally just stopped in its tracks. Since I had no water, I realized that I would have to walk.

Happily, after hoofing along the road for a couple of miles I came across what looked like a small town. Yes, they had a mechanic, who for a price would drive me back to my car, and put water in my radiator so I could get on the road again. Of course, his price was $500.00 for this service. I gulped, realizing this was a large chunk of my money I had, but since I didn’t have a choice, I paid the man. I guess I’ll just travel this road poor for a while because I know at my destination is a branch of my bank, so I can get money there. And besides, it’s a virtue to be trusting of my map while traveling as a poor man. Just think of my status I’ll have when I tell my story!

Starting out again, I drove along for about 300 miles until my car developed a distinct metallic sound coming from the inside of my engine. I slowed down hoping to let the engine not strain so much, and hopefully get me to another gas station before it completely broke down. No such luck. After about 5 minutes of hearing the metal on metal sounds, it stopped with a loud bang in a small black smoke cloud. Opening my door to step out, I saw a black stream of hot oil trickling beneath my car. Since I had no means of coping with this, I decided to pray for help. I prayed fervently, hoping that I would see an approaching car driving along through the shimmering heat waves.

But no. Nothing.

It was then that I realized that this trip had cost me almost all my money, caused me to miss out on being a part of the convoy of my friends, and I had been living completely alone. All because I believed that my life map was somehow superior to what almost everyone else followed.

I started out walking, but I never recovered, or actually reached my goal. I was fundamentally lost for an entire lifetime.

This entry was written by my ghost.


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