The Road is Life



“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go.  But no matter, the road is life.”

–Jack Kerouac


    Today is truly a special day for me.  I’m having trouble sorting out my feelings. I’m happy, I’m excited, I’m confused, I’m surprised and I’m overwhelmed.  I feel like things are ending and beginning at the same time.  I find tears in my eyes at the strangest times and I laugh out loud for what seems like no reason.  I feel I’ve been whisked back in time to when I was always hopeful and mostly unafraid.  Actually I was fearless.  I was so young.  My son Hans is 38 today.  He was born when I was 23.  It just so happens his birthday falls on Martin Luther King Day and the day before the inauguration of Barak Obama as president.  Yesterday as I watched the Obama Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on HBO I had a stirring inside me that I recognized oh so well.  The celebration started with artists making speeches about Obama in front of the marble statue of Abraham Lincoln.  Artists…I kid you not. There were Actors, writers, singers and poets, those special illuminated individuals who carry the culture of our country in their pockets, appearing on stage; so many that I couldn’t even count.  I was so proud.  Usher, Bono, James Taylor and Sheryl Crow were there just to name a few.  I was glued to the set.  With each performer I was more excited.  Near the end of the presentation Pete Seeger took the stage.  I started to cry.  He sang the Woody Guthrie song “This Land is Your Land” and it certainly brought down this house.  As he sang my mind conjured up pictures from my past.  I remembered my friend’s sister who fought in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham and who we thought was a hero when she came back bruised and bitten by dogs.  I saw myself and my tiny baby daughter manning the “Bobby Seale” barricade at Portland State University when the school was closed for 3 days because of protest over the Kent State Killings. I remember the entire country watching the moon landing.  Watergate, Woodstock and Vietnam raced through my brain.  I thought back on hearing Nelson Mandala speak in Boston where the crowd was so big I could only see him on a tiny video screen mounted on a streetlight.

    “The Times They Are a Changing” again, just like Bob Dylan said so many years ago. So Happy Birthday Hanshans who has grown into a wonderful, kind and peaceful man and father. Happy Birthday Martin Luther King and congratualtions to our new president Barack Obama. Let’s all celebrate that hope is alive again and that maybe just maybe we can proud of our country again. The music came full circle from Pete Seeger to Beyonce. Let’s follow their lead and all come together on the exciting new road ahead of us.     

2 thoughts on “The Road is Life

  1. Lee Russell

    I so wish I could have seen all of this. Thanks, Jerry, for living it for those of us who were only allowed the time at our jobs to see “the swearing in and the speech.” You’ve translated what you saw and it went straight to my heart. I’ve had such similar experiences… I’m so grateful we can connect this way.


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