I’m apparently on a car kick these days; this is the third post in a row that has vehicular origins…
I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker before.
A friend of mine just shared a personal story with me: in his younger days, he began an international trip to Israel with a plan to hitchhike from Ohio to New York, so that he could catch his plane at JFK airport. His father agreed to his plan, and off he went. Thankfully, it only took him one day to get to his destination, though he allotted two–which meant he spent quite a bit of time just hanging out at the airport (apparently you could do that in those days).
Beginning a long journey with the uncertainty of having to hitchhike seems unthinkable to me. But it worked out just fine for him. I’ve never picked up a hitchhiker before, nor have I ever attempted to hitchhike.
Or have I?
As I think back over life, there are names and faces that have come and gone…but there are also some that have remained. There are some relationships that began long ago, and those connections remain to this day.
We all expect some relationships to fade over time. We don’t expect to keep up with all of our friends from school (though some people, with the help of Facebook, are making a good try). We remember old neighbors that moved away, and we find ourselves asking, “Where are they now?”
But some people remain intertwined with our lives over the years and decades. We pick them up along the way, and have yet to take our separate paths.
Leatha, James, Stacy, Tania, Dan, Elizabeth, Zach, Melissa, Matt, Valerie, Jason, Thom, Mike, Sam, Monica, Kevin, Lindsay, Dave, Steve, John, Tim…all of these names represent relationships, some of which are new in the last few months, and others of which have lasted for nearly twenty years (and I’m only in my early thirties).
Surely, many more people have come into my life, but these (and others) have remained. Some hitchhiking journeys are long, others are short, and some have yet to end.
Now, I certainly don’t have a large enough car to seat all of these people (see photo), so I don’t think they’re the ones who are hitchhiking into my life. Rather, it seems that I am, in fact, the hitchhiker.
It’s my life’s journey and destination that is being strongly shaped by these ongoing relationships. These friends carry me along when I don’t know how to move forward, when I’m not even sure of exactly where I’m headed. These are the people I talk to along the way–sometimes about trite things, and sometimes about the most significant matters of life. It’s these people who inconvenience themselves by letting me intrude on their comings and goings, who pick me up in the midst of my need.
Now, I certainly don’t talk to each of these people every day, but I indeed find myself stranded occasionally at an intersection, and then see the chance to hop along with one of them for a while once again. And they slow down and take me in. Sometimes, it’s like we never parted. At other times, nearly everything has changed. But the connection remains.
I didn’t write The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but if I did, I think it might need just a single chapter.