This title has been rolling around in my brain off and on for more than a minute — months, actually. In addition to the late, great Kenny Rogers and Elvis, my parents had lots of what I would call “pure 70’s gold” albums, including John Denver. Probably had an 8-track or two of them as well, but that’s a whole other post. We sang to all of those records in the living room, many nights as I grew up — to the tops of our lungs. I can hear it now (and our voices are perfect in my mind… totally ready to order the merch and go on tour): “Country Roads, take me home. To the place, where I BE-LOOOONNNNGGG…”
That’s not just the big note. It’s actually a huge thing, to find the place where we belong, right? A place where we can bloom. A place where we make the most of opportunities as they come along, and where we are comfortable in our own skin. Granted, most of us get more comfortable in our own skin, and our place, as we grow more mature. Notice I didn’t say as we get older, because chronological age isn’t the thing. That’s just a number. No, I think the idea is that we learn more about who we are, what we’re about, and what’s important to us — really important to us.
For some of us, our Country Roads moment comes early and more easily, but for others, it is hard-fought. HARD fought. We battle our own selves, mostly, don’t we? We let those feelings of doubt creep in, the moments where we just don’t feel good enough. Or, even more tragic, and anger-inducing for me, there are times when we listen to someone else tell us we’re not good enough, or smart enough, or don’t measure up in some other way. Why do we let those voices into our head and our heart? How I wish my armor didn’t have chinks in it here and there, and I had “Cool Hand Luke” confidence all the time. Or do I? Is part of my finding the place where I belong also finding an appreciation for the belief in my own value, that pride in small victories so that I can encourage someone else along the way? Mind you, it’s a continuing work in progress, and I’m still traveling those winding country roads within my own mind.
Not that blooming, where I’m planted if you will, means that I stop stretching. And it doesn’t mean that I don’t still have moments when I’m disappointed in myself, or the patch where I’m currently planted. Success isn’t usually built on success – it often comes from failure. It often comes from frustration, as an old saying goes. I think what defines me is what I do with that frustration.
Am I going to just accept it and give in to a disappointment? Am I going to lash out and let my crazy come untucked? (Lordy, I sure hope not. Well, maybe for a minute — in private. It’s not pretty though. Like, really not a good look.) Am I going to listen and learn, and then get back to work? Am I going to press on until I figure it out? I sure hope so. And when I’m tempted to give up and pout, or jump haphazardly to something new to avoid accoutability, or blame someone else for my failure, I hope something or someone gently (or not — honesty and direct, constructive feedback is okay too) brings me back on track.
And if I do figure out that I’m not exactly to the place where I belong, I can change that, and find a new country road to travel. A wise, very Seussical person wrote, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Which is a bit in and of itself, right?
Whew, we really have meandered down a country road or two here. As the song continues, “I should have been home yesterday…. yesterdaaaaaaay.” So let me round the curve toward home. The bottom line of this bit, for me today: I’m thankful for how I’ve grown more confident in the place where I belong, but I hope I’m never so complacent that I find myself going through the motions, spinning my wheels in place, stuck along a country road. And I hope I don’t let disappointments define me, and that I keep pushing myself, helping anyone else I can along the way. And now that song is stuck in your head, just like it is in mine. Just go with it, and maybe we’ll see you on our daydream tour.