The Rear View Mirror
As a traveler who writes, you’re intimately acquainted with the way drudgery can become adventure, or at least a story, when looked at in the rearview mirror. Even in your most anxious, stir-crazy moments, you know that one day, back on the far side of Earth, the event you’re experiencing now will somehow seem more spectacular, or at least valuable and defining.
But as a writer who travels, there are other things you see in the rearview mirror, things now well beyond reach because time, and perhaps distance, has carried you too far. You see lost youth, a fading innocence. You see decisions that at the time seemed noble (and probably were) but which now merely leave you silent, staring into the mirror. You see the future for what it became—the past—and suddenly you wish, at least in some moments, to speak and act differently. You wish that the thing in the mirror was ahead of you, but it is not.
In the rearview mirror even idealism looks dangerous, a Titanic launched and sent full steam ahead. You understand well the ship’s design and the confidence with which it departed, but now you also know the iceberg through which history, or at least you, will interpret its voyage. In the rearview mirror you see that life is hard, harder than you ever expected.
But the journey, you remember, is not yet over. You’re not crushed and broken 12,600 feet under the Atlantic, nor are you forever stranded in some emergency lane while the world speeds by at 70mph. And this is why, having pulled off the road and given that rearview mirror a good long look, you will eventually turn your eyes back to the road, and then, slowly but surely, you will pull your vehicle back into the forward-moving stream.
Finally, having removed your hat to better feel the breeze of movement and hope, you will look for a place to hang it. You will choose, at least for a little while, the rearview mirror.