Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Road

I bought a print the other day of the Camino, the road from France to the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela. It was in an exhibition series of paintings in our library exploring the nature of roads. Standing on the road; a trail really; was a solitary lengthened shadow of a figure with a stick: the low sun, the sense of impending twilight; and the antiqued paper giving the print of the road a quality of roughness and endless distance. A road always suggests a journey: leaving somewhere, or something, or someone, and going to something, or somewhere. But the gist of the journey is the process, not the beginning or the end. The shadow on the road is fully in contact with it, not just the soles of one's feet, and the shadow looks forward and backward throughout the journey, leading and following, and watches the traveler from one side or the other as well, through much of the day. Though the traveler passes through the country, the road, hard and rough, the traveler footsore,  he is confined by the direction of the roadway if he is to progress to the intended target. If it's the road to Zanzibar Dorothy Lamour makes with her friends, or the Yellow Brick Road or the Camino road, the place to be is the place between. This is where we walk a step at a time. In my print, the solitary figure expressed by shadow gives a feeling to the viewer of the loneliness of the roadway. There is no Bing Crosby or Bob Hope to accompany Dorothy! There is no Toto to accompany the other Dorothy! But of course, these are only fantasies of reality on the roadway.There is no bicycle, no automobile, just a narrow road in my print for which each step is the only present and the only reality. My print could have been anywhere because road is a metaphor for life. I have never taken the road to Santiago de Compostela and I am too old now to do it, but a road is a road is a road and we all are on a roadway to somewhere and leaving somewhere.  It's the process that we live with from that road we decided to take, rather than the goal that will take us somewhere else. How many times did you start with a goal and find during the journey that the real purpose was somewhere else?

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