When we talk about roads in our life we often talk about the decisions we made, the paths we have chosen in our convictions, relationships or careers. ‘Road’ or ‘Path’ are two short words that as metaphors can easily describe the complexity of our lives. These words suggest a direction, movement, a restricted area where we move along that is surrounded by things that are not the road itself, but rather the things we discover alongside our path. At the same time, the word road and path can mean something very specific: a particular road or path, or ‘our road’ compromised of many different paths along the journey. Even though the words path and roads are wonderful metaphors, today I want to talk about a more practical side of these words.
Throughout different stages of my life, I have walked many roads and paths, and not just the metaphorical ones. The path to my elementary school, ‘the chestnut lane’, my road to the bus and the bus ride to my high school. The different road to a different bus stop when we moved house. From that time on I remember for the first time describing a certain journey as ‘this is my life’. Being a child from a broken home ‘a.k.a. cycling from one part of town to the other with lots of stuff’ I felt that these moments on my bike from one house to another were a practical and metaphorical image of what my life was like. Yet not only the way from my moms to my dad’s house and the other way around, but as well the usual route with our dog felt like ‘my life’. I thought of how sharing this particular walk, a line on a map would be a very intimate activity- sharing a road where I had so many different thoughts.
As life moved on, I have as well moved houses, no longer in a small town but a big city, the roads have changed, but the concept has not. Every place where I move I have journeys that I take every day. Small pilgrimages from home to work, home to school, home to a church. No matter how often I take these roads, every time they evoke something similar and new to me. I find myself thinking of a certain song when I pass a certain part of my way to high school because I listened to it often there. Or I think of a conversation I had. It is curious how physical roads can bring your mind to things that you would not think of when you wouldn’t be there. The same stories, the same words drift in my mind.
Truth be told I still walk most of these roads alone, like a pilgrimage I might meet people on the way, and we might walk together, yet I do not truly share my path. The feeling that has been build up from the walking the same path over and over again cannot be transferred by walking the road together once. One of my philosophy teachers once told about Heidegger’s concept that language was like the home in which we live. A powerful and beautiful metaphor, I think. I would like to suggest something else: Our life is the road that we take.