This I Believe

Laurel - Carlisle, Pennsylvania
Entered on August 7, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that self discovery and spiritual enlightenment await us on the road less traveled.

As a child growing up in the suburbs of Detroit, I have fond memories of Sunday drives in the country with my parents and three sisters. The highlight of these outings was when one of us would spot a “secret road,” and as family tradition dictated, reveal our discovery in an enthusiastic and compelling announcement of our find. Dad, the ever-accommodating pilot of our ship, would hit the brakes and turn the car around, delighting my sisters and me as we headed into the unknown—the three of us in the back seat squeezing one another’s hands and squealing in anticipation.

These simple family side trips instilled in me a sense of adventure and a desire to explore the unknown, and would lead me on a journey of self discovery that spanned many states, several countries, and a most unconventional career path. They led me to islands in the Bahamas accessible only by boat: Great Guana Cay in the Abacos, where I spoke to wide-eyed children in a one-room schoolhouse about tourism, and discovered my love of teaching. To neighboring Green Turtle Cay, where I became an instant celebrity with all who lived there by bringing Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters to their remote island home. Here, I discovered my love of bringing great joy to others.

And they led me to Jamaica, where I lived in a house atop a hill overlooking Montego Bay. Each day, I would have to make my way through downtown to get to my workplace, and I never tired of being in the center of it all—barefoot fruit vendors maneuvering their hand made carts through traffic on their way to market; old men playing dominoes on the roadside; impeccably groomed and uniformed children making their way through town on their way to school; roadside food stalls serving up rice ‘n peas and curried goat; and day workers loaded in the back of trucks laughing and enjoying their journey. The sights, the sounds and the smells would send my senses into overload, and I would invariably shed tears of joy as I watched a people who, in spite of the struggles of life in a developing country, found true joy in the simple act of being. Here, I discovered what truly touched my soul and fed my spirit.

The road less traveled doesn’t have to be about visiting far-away places. It might be pursuing an idea or a dream that only you believe in, reaching out to someone whose beliefs or culture you may not understand, learning a spiritually-based art such as yoga or Tai Chi, or simply finding a secret road along the highway.