the road to moreWe have prospered. Yes, we’ve come a long way since the days of struggle, on the road to more.. or less. Even some of the poorest in our society now have indoor plumbing, air conditioning, TV, computers, and cell phones. Yes, sir  – we’re living grand days and in the land flowing with milk and honey.

Peculiar that all the grand things we’ve strived and struggled for don’t necessarily make life better or bring loved ones closer.

One of the last trips we made as a family to visit our grandparents in California was inconvenient, to say the least. My dad was working out of town and had with him the only vehicle that was running at the time. My two older brothers were grown. Bobby, my middle brother, had the only reliable vehicle, a pickup truck – long before the days of extra cabs.

I was at the age of full height but not being in charge of making plans, just obligated to follow them out. The grand plan was to meet our dad in California at my mom’s parents house for Christmas. He in 72′ Javelin, the rest of us, the magnificent seven, in a half ton Ford.

Being male, as well as the youngest, I knew from history made me a shoe-in for the pick-up bed for the chilly December four-hour joy ride. While we didn’t have much, we had plenty of blankets and we’d need all of them. Though fully grown and in high school, that was the last time I remember nodding out and sleeping like a baby. The four hours passed like four minutes and we made the sacrifice to be with family instead of the excuses the folks who have more tend to make.

The amount of changes that have transpired since those meager days is mind boggling. For all that the technology and advances promised in changing our lives for the better in order to enjoy the truly important things in life, they really only succeeded in changing our priorities and culture in general by making the majority of us more self-absorbed. I might well have been served a double portion.

The smooth ride, electrical adjustable leather seats with built-in heaters, electric windows and sometimes roofs, cruise control, navigation, stereos that sound like a concert hall, and engines the barely make a sound yet move us like lightning, doesn’t mean we use them for honorable and selfless trips with a proper focus on the things that should matter most.

The cell phones that do everything but wash our feet keep us connected, but not like a face to face meeting or hug can. It’s a cheap imitation of being truly connected.

What is it about sacrifice that makes things so much sweeter? Maybe it’s how we’re reminded that our most honorable actions are always the ones when we’re doing something for someone else and the emotion and gratification that comes along with the action of self-discipline.

A famous quote comes to mind, “Tis better to give than receive.” I think I’ve gotten too used to receiving and have forgotten how to give. Lord help us…

Not that I’m recommending riding in the back of a pick up on I-10 during December, but it helps me to remember.