I drive a lot between here and Atlanta, sometimes twice in a month.
It’s a 600-mile drive round trip and takes almost five hours each way. I take the five hours alone in the car and think.
I think about book ideas, I think about life, where I’m at in it and where I want to be.
I use the five hours to flush the cerebral pipes so to speak.
During this most recent trip back from Atlanta I worried about my car, because that is what I am often prone to do. I’m worried about getting stranded on the road between there and here, and this trip I was particularly worried about radiator leaks.
I pick a problem and obsess over it.
I’m not content with the status quo of the dashboard temperature gauge so I stare at it while driving 70 mph and imagine that the needle is creeping up the gauge toward HOT.
While I’m obsessing over the hotness of my car, I’m also lamenting my lot in life. I spend my life trying to dodge the proverbial bullet.
While driving, and worrying about the state of my car, and about my lot in life or the lack thereof, I passed a disabled car alongside the road.
The car was a lot like mine.
A minivan, same make and model, just a different color.
On this van the right front tire was flat and the rear window had been knocked out.
A thought hit me, my first road epiphany of the morning: I don’t have it so bad after all. Somebody out there is worse off than I am.
My car was at least running and I wasn’t stranded alongside the road in Lula, Ga.
The best part about Lula, Ga., is the sign that says you are leaving Lula, Ga.
As I continued on my homeward journey over the camelback humps of the North Georgia foothills, I passed three churches.
The denomination of these churches are not relevant to my tale, just that each had one of those message signs posted in their front lawn near the roadway for passing motorists to read and reflect upon.
The first sign said simply, “Be thankful.”
I don’t believe in coincidences and random chances when I saw, “Be thankful,” because I did have a lot to be thankful for this morning.
I counted my blessings and smiled at each one.
Uplifted I pressed onward.
As I passed the second church, the sign out front said, “Be faithful.”
If nothing else I remain faithful to my heart and I smiled at this, knowing if I remained faithful, everything would turn out just fine in the end.
The third church sign said simply, “Fill your heart with love,” and I thought, lately, my heart has been full of love.
This is when I began to realize something very special was happening during my drive home. If indeed there exists a higher power, it was definitely sending me a message this day and I would do well to listen.
As my drive continued, I passed a billboard on the Interstate that said, (it was a tequila sign), “Be inspired,” and I thought, I am inspired every day.
When I passed through Columbia I saw a sign for gym memberships that said, “Every day offers a new second chance. Start building your future today.”
Seeing all these my heart swelled with joyous emotion. I am truly a lucky man, I thought.
Like Jimmy Stewart at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Then there came the last sign... flashing neon red...
It said, “Ladies shoot free on Wednesdays.”
Yep... inside every silver lining floats a gray cloud...