I love a good metaphor almost as much as I love a good analogy. Being the fan that I am, baseball as a metaphor for life ranks as my favorite, and I would wager that has everything to do with my passion for the sport and how baseball has intertwined with my life. But Tom Cochrane put metaphor to music in 1991 and captured in three minutes my outlook on road trips through the decade. In fact, I even dubbed it Son #1’s theme song since as a child he so often accompanied me on my traveling adventures across the highways of America. He tackled thirteen states before his first birthday and left the country before his second birthday. By his fifth birthday, he visited two continents, eight countries, and twenty states.
Certainly his recollection of many of these early locations remains spotty at best, but that’s why he has me. I tell him about the Colorado Rockies, the Mona Lisa, Gettysburg, and the Cape Hatteras lighthouse. Nevertheless, bits and pieces of his childhood clatter around in his head including chasing pigeons in Vatican Square (and a number of other European cities) and riding the subway in DC. For him, his life truly has been a highway as my number one traveling companion. Sorry Son #2, but it’s true.
At some point in elementary school, drawing a timeline about themselves becomes a common assignment for kids, and they include important chronological landmarks in their young lives, and the larger world community. Son #1, while creative in many aspects, despises projects involving crayons, scissors, illustrations, glue, and poster board (don’t even get him started on glitter). Only after he decides to duplicate his theme song in his project does he actually begin working on it. Germany unified the week he was born, the Soviet Union collapsed the night after he visited Mount Rushmore (see Rapid City, Rapid Change from November 2011), he lived at Ramstein Air Base when the downed helicopter pilot was rescued from Somalia, and he watched the space shuttle lift off on its mission to rendezvous with the MIR space station a month before starting kindergarten.
But does his life really compare to a highway with its off ramps, concrete slabs, and bridges that may ice before road? Does he watch for falling rocks, exit at the next rest stop, and observe the miles tick by quickly some days and exhaustingly slow on others? Do pushy drivers pass on the right, cut him off and ride his bumper, while some cars also allow him to merge from the on ramp and politely flash their lights to warn of an objective in the roadway? Life is full of figurative falling rocks, even when we aren’t warned. Some stretches of life seem mountainous or even moderately bumpy, and sometimes life has long, straight stretches that can bore us, or just as easily bring us tranquility. Son #1, like all of us, will always encounter people trying to get ahead, while others will kindly let him merge into their lives. Yes, life is definitely a highway, so metaphorically speaking, be good drivers.