“With so many roads that seem to lead down to the sea
I wonder which road will be the right one for me
Others may fall away, dead ending left and right
But there is this one road that journeys far out of sight.
Have you wondered where your road will lead you?
Maybe to a bright day of sunshine or a starry night in heaven
Or it might be you’re afraid to go, afraid to go
But you’ve got to follow your road, or you’ll never know, never know.”
These are the opening lyrics to one of the most inspirational songs you possibly never heard. The chorus ends with “You’ve got to follow your road, follow your road, follow your road. And maybe someday your road will take you far away.” The song carries the same title as this post. It’s Follow Your Road. It was written by Pauline Wilson and recorded by Seawind back in the ’70s.
For a person born with a passion for the arts, this song speaks to you, heart and soul. My primary drive in the arts was about writing. I wasn’t that great at following my road, but I always found my way back.
Finding My Road
Here’s an excerpt from my memoir, The Quest and the Resistance. “Once I learned to read and write at the country school, I found I loved both. I would say television contributed to the passion for storytelling, but as soon as I was doing cursive writing, I began weaving tales of fiction. I knew I wanted to be an author and that’s the term I used. I wrote my first story. Heroic dogs were big on TV at the time and I took my cue from Lassie or maybe Rin Tin Tin. My story was of a boy who fell in a hole. He was rescued by a dog…The End. It wasn’t quite that short, but it was no doubt very brief and to the point. It’s tough to flesh out characters or design nuance and subplot when you’re six.”
My vocation was decided then. Ah, but life has its distractions. There was fishing. There was baseball. I actually supplanted my goal of being an author for a few misguided years with a far flung dream of being a major league baseball player! There were insects. There were girls. And reading.
Still, throughout my childhood, I kept writing stories. I wrote a mystery in Fifth Grade that I was honored to read in class. I wrote a fictional Alamo account that centered around Jim Bowie which ended with his death and fake blood trickling down the final page. I wrote about Hannibal of Carthage because of my fascination with his African war elephants he drove across the Alps in an assault on the Roman Empire.
In high school, I could barely get my homework done, let alone put many stories down on paper. I recall one short story and it was done for an English class taught by Elsie Schall–Mrs. Schall to us. I created a modern tale that emphasized my budding consciousness of current affairs. It was partially inspired by a news story about a person in some big city who was standing on a skyscraper ledge with the crowd below chanting “Jump! Jump!” Oh, the humanity…or lack of it. I wrote about a social worker who was dedicated to helping others, but he met a dubious, tragic end that I left to the imagination of the reader. That bit of contemporary ingenuity earned me a C minus in the bespectacled eyes of Mrs. Schall.
Though I don’t have a memory of the short fiction I was writing, I do remember my infantile attempts at marketing. I submitted a few pieces to magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker. I learned about rejection slips.
Despite the many distractions of puberty, poverty and production, I found my way back to my destiny–writing for the sake of writing. I had my first taste of publication by becoming a sportswriter for the weekly newspaper in our little town. I covered basketball and wrestling for a year or two. Later, the paper published a travel article I wrote about a Bluegrass Festival I had attended in Santa Barbara. Here and there through the years, I’ve done some reasonable work and several people have taken a chance on me. The passion is still within and will stay with me to the end.
I feel so fortunate to have had a road to follow. I’m thankful I was able to get back to it when I was lost. Whatever your road, may you never lose your way.