Sunday, February 27, 2011

Savoring Sunday Without Charlie Sheen

-Taken By The Open Road Near Denver, Colorado-
-PHOTO: By Ruth Rader-

It's my favorite day of the week: Sunday. The sun is shining and the temperature is finally back in the double-digits (ABOVE zero!) here in Bozeman, Montana.

I am sipping piping-hot tea and enjoying a bowl of Chunky chicken noodle soup...and an orange.

The housekeeper is running around the motel. A group of people just lost their job at the local Borders bookstore. So, the housekeeper is happy to be working.

She cleans my room every Sunday. I get fresh sheets and towels and she cleans the bathroom. She also has a wild way with the vacuum cleaner.

My garlic sprout is flourishing on the window sill. The traffic on the road, at the end of the parking lot, is running at its regular pace. After all of this time, I have learned to tune it out.

Why am I writing about this?

I don't take anything that I just described above...for granted. For the past seventeen years, I spent most of my time in motels, truck stops, shelters, rest areas, people's houses and right out on the road.

I had a temporary lifestyle. Nothing ever lasted for very long.

One jackass sent me a comment once and implied that I kept moving because I would regularly piss people off whenever I stopped somewhere. So I would have to move on.

That's bullshit.

The reason why I kept rolling is centered around the post that I put up in January of 2006. You can read that post HERE .

I have stayed in a really nice motel at a truck stop in a small city in Central Pennsylvania. And I met some amazing people there who drank coffee with me in a little cafe, one frosty afternoon.

I stayed with a family that I would have initially voted to be the least likely to ever pick me up. But they did...and then they took me back to their huge dog and their $450,000 house near Los Almos, New Mexico.

I hunkered-down in a little motel outside of a small town in Southern Wisconsin. That night, the power failed, the sirens turned on and I was convinced that the storm would eventually blow me all the way to Cleveland.

I have lived. And not like Charlie Sheen. I've never had to go looking for a challenge. Challenges have always come to me.

And like I already wrote here...I've haven't taken anything for granted.

I've learned to appreciate hot tea on a cold day...even if it was in a small soup kitchen in Missouri. I've also felt the magic of walking down the side of a road and watching the sun rise like a glorious spark, above a corn field, in Iowa.

Simple things. Routine items in an average, everyday life. I have come to treasure those moments.

I now understand the value of a fiery maple leaf, waving from a tree limb, that's set against a dark blue sky. Or drinking a hot cup of coffee with a volunteer, late at night, in a church building (turned "warming spot") in Southwestern Oregon. I've shared a smile with an engineer...while he slowly rolled his train of boxcars past me...and into the night, in Northern Indiana.

And I've never felt the need for "expensive" or fancy things. I've been happy with a backpack filled with sturdy clean clothes, hygiene items and a Rand McNally road atlas.

And I'm very glad now that I never succumbed to the American "need for greed." Or else I never would have rolled out my sleeping bag in that field outside of Missoula, Montana.

Yes, I've been through some rough times. But those incidents made me stronger and taught me lessons that have enriched my life.

My photo has never been published on the front page of the New York Times. And my name has never been headlined on TMZ. But I've received another kind of thrill when a trucker blew his air horn and waved at me, as he drove his big rig past me and down the Interstate.

And I've come to realize that it's all in how I see things.

I've been blessed and I've always remembered where all of my blessings have come from: God.

And that knowledge has always reminded me of how much I am worth. After fifty-five years, I know that I am worth a very great deal. Above and beyond everything else, I have always been loved by God. Yay, me!

His angels have always stayed with me. No matter how cold, or thirsty, or tired, or hungry, or hurt, or angry I got during those seventeen years: God's angels never left my side.

And that special link to God has been and always will be, worth everything.

I didn't lose anything that mattered as I hitchhiked around North America. But I gained a solid perspective on what really matters in my life.

And I never became superficial like Charlie Sheen is now.

Instead, I sat on a guardrail, ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sucked down a
Diet Dew and remained as real as the gravel underneath my sneakers.

And I wrote about it all. I took notes. I posted on message boards. I created a blog. I took photographs. I exchanged emails. And I saved every word and image that I possibly could.

Now I have a seventeen year treasure that I can share with the world.

It's Sunday. And I won't get an Oscar, tonight. The hole in my gum where my tooth used to be, is still healing up. The leaves aren't out on the trees here yet and there's still plenty of snow piled-up in the parking lot.

But I'm not Charlie Sheen. Nope.

Today, I am a very lucky, blessed and satisfied human being.

And that's enough.

I hope you are that fortunate today, too. And I hope that your happiness has nothing whatsoever to do with...Charlie Sheen.

-My backpack by an Interstate lightpole in Montana-
-PHOTO: By Ruth Rader-

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