I was driving down the Parkway the other day, as good Boonies regularly do, for an unexpectedly long time, as inexperienced Boonies tend to do, and I started doing some serious thinking. For those of you unfamiliar with Boone or other mountain towns along the Parkway, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a single road that winds itself through the mountains from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It’s littered with views and adventures and if you’re hungry for nature, I’d encourage you to go.
But anyway, back to my thinking.
I think that the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most exquisite and tangible displays of God’s gift of free will. I am not narcissistic enough to believe that God only gifted free will to humans. I’d like to think that He gifted it to all of His creation, regardless of whether or not they use and abuse it like we humans tend to do.
He set these massive pieces of earth next to each other and one day they started shifting. They started slamming into each other and splitting apart. The movement left behind these dips and ridges and hills and mountains and cracks. The forest later covering the breaking with greenery and water. Millions of years after, people found it. These people, bearing asphalt and machinery, placed this road and put up these bridges, they wore the rock, and beat trails and markers into the ground, all to lay claim to the mountains and the views. We craved so much to know about it and see it, that we were willing to cut into the side of it. We split it down the middle just so we could view it more easily. We were so eager to love it, to be closer to it, to make it ours, that we willingly destroyed some of it.
We, humans, do this a lot actually if you think about it. We cut open the body, the mind, the sea. We dissect some of the smallest organisms on earth just to learn what goes on inside of them. We are so desperate for knowledge.
So if this is human nature, if this is our way, damaging things so we can see them better, it seems obvious that we would do this to people too. That in our relationships we would want the person so badly or want to know them so badly, that we’d be willing to hurt the person, just to be able to see them better.
While my car was whipping around the sides of mountains, I thought about ways I’ve done this or had this done to me. I thought about the ways I’ve ever clung to people in hopes of learning them or seeing them, but really just did damage to them. And the times that people have wanted me that they were willing to compromise my trust or damage my feelings, just so they could see me or have me for a moment.
Relationships, romantic, platonic, and otherwise, can turn toxic, can run stale or dry, and end up becoming harmful. We are often so focused on having people, that we get stuck in ways of trying to keep them in our lives and we ignore all the signs that maybe we are not supposed to. I think it is an act of awareness to be able to identify when the relationship is no longer growing or serving you or the other person. I think it’s beautiful and kind to set you and the other person free. Perhaps there are times when you are not meant to lay the road, or carve the trail, or build the bridge. Perhaps there are moments in relationships where you have to declare the land unbuildable. Perhaps it is only unbuildable for now, but years from now the relationship can be revisited. Maybe you don’t have the means to build it now, but will then.
Don’t force things. Some things are not meant to be held or kept. Destruction, in any amount and for any reason, be it love, or knowledge, or closeness, is all harmful. The things that are meant to be ours will be ours and things that aren’t will leave us eventually. Don’t make the staying painful because you are trying to build permanent roads on shifting soil.