The Roads Whipser My Name
Article by: Michael SelmanReproduced with permission of the author
I do a lot of driving through the North Georgia Mountains and the Carolinas, and I've noticed that this part of the country has its share of quiet roads. Quiet, however, does not exactly mean silent. These roads actually talk to me through their tranquility, and they whisper my name, barely audibly, but undeniably. They soothingly grab my attention, and once they have gotten it, under their breath, they always utter the same two-word refrain. Like a gentle breeze, they plead. "Run me."
Whenever I hear the call, I find myself for one brief moment rearranging the rest of the day in my mind, and, once that is done, pulling over to oblige the call. But there is always a reason I don't. Either I have an ultimately unyielding agenda for the day, or there are people waiting at the other end of my travels, or I'm just not ready to take that kind of risk, so the thought is fleeting. I have therefore always denied the invitation, tricking myself in to believing that maybe, some day, I'll return to answer that call. But thus far, though the roads are always inviting, I have not accepted the invitation.
The roads that whisper my name are always roads less traveled, and that's what makes them so compelling. These whispering roads of which I speak all have a similar character. They are for the eye's eternity tree-lined, with an abundance of shade, and the roads themselves are always ascending until they ultimately stretch beyond view, only adding to the mystery and intrigue. Perhaps, if just one time, I chose to pull over, and accept the road's request to run, it would make all the difference. But so far, I have remained indifferent. There are risks in the unknown and unrevealed, and these roads gently dare me and seemingly taunt me to find out what lies just beyond my view. That's why they continue to call out to me, and goad me by saying "Run me." The roads that whisper my name remain an unaccepted offer, and an unsolved mystery, because I continue to stay true to the paths I know, where I feel safe and protected. They remain an invitation I have yet to accept. But the temptation grows to some day give in to the plea. "Run me."
Whispering roads are not like the roads I run every day, which have less and less to say as the years go on. The familiar roads no longer talk, as they did when they were new. They are reliable and predictable, and I run in peaceful communion with them, but there is little new on roads that I have come to know so well that I could traverse them with my eyes closed. They are, at the same time, safe, and somewhat monotonous.
Perchance, the day will come when I wake up discovering that the same old road is no longer the comfort I had always thought it to be. Upon that realization, I may just hop in my car, and point it north, without any particular final destination, and without any specific activity to complete. I may drive with no other purpose but to hear, and be ready to respond to that whisper I've heard so many times before. "Run me." That road I choose may turn out to be a dead end, or it might possibly be a new beginning. But taking that whispering road might make all the difference.
Michael Selman Roads Scholar Atlanta Georgia USAMichael Selman is a freelance writer who has appeared in publications and web sites throughout the world, including Runner's World, Footnotes, and CoolRunning.