The Circle Of Life (As Taught To Me In Rural West Virginia)

Just a thought that came to me one day on my way to work.  I don’t know why it did but as trivial as it seems the idea fell into place.

I was thinking about some upcoming road trips to our new home in Florida and having to drive the major US highways.

On my way to work I drive stretches of back country roads and I thought how nice it might be to have a couple of days to make a drive to Florida on some secondary highways.  I thought it would be interesting to actually see the east coast of America, especially south of Washington DC into Florida.

This got me to thinking about all the trips my wife and I have taken over the years.

They were usually two or three day excursions and normally not more than 100 or 200 miles from home.

Like life the destination wasn’t the most important part of the weekend vacation.  The real fun and adventure was the journey to and from the destination.

We would usually take the old two lane highways like you did when you traveled in the forties and fifties.  We’d travel through every little town along the way.  We’d stop at unique shops and Ma and Pa diners.

My mind went back to one particular trip we made into the Shenandoah Valley.  One of the old highways we used took us through West Virginia.

I’m not writing this to knock West Virginia and I’m not going to make any West Virginia jokes like, “If you divorce your wife is she still your sister?”  I really do like West Virginia.

As we were driving down a section of old highway that was dotted with one little borough and town after another, both my wife and myself noticed a rather peculiar pattern.

First we’d come upon a church, then a school and then within a stone’s throw there’d be a gentlemen’s club (strip club) which was soon followed by another church.

We thought seeing this grouping of buildings all within sight of each other was a coincidence.  But as we traveled a few more miles we saw the same cluster of establishments all very near to each other.  We noticed this pattern of buildings about three of four more times during our short drive through the state.  My wife and I made a comment about it.  We were surprised by how many times we saw churches, schools and strip clubs within a short distance from each other.

I’m not making any judgments or criticisms, we just found it odd.

Then this morning as I was thinking back on this trip it fell into place for me.

What I saw, what each of these villages, boroughs, hamlets had consciously or subconsciously figured out was life, the circle of life.

You’re born innocent and brought into this world.  Many of us are brought into the church.

You’re raised and schooled and learn about life.  You slowly begin to have your innocence stripped away.

You begin to learn about the wants, the lusts, the sins of the flesh.  You chase these things and after a while they become hollow, meaningless.

So you search for more to fill the void left by the lust of the world and return to the church.  You return to God.

There it is, the circle of life in West Virginia, church, school, strip club, church.  And you never have to leave your hometown.  “Almost heaven, West Virginia”

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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