The Open Road

Excerpt from Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
Strong and content I travel the open road.

My deepest desire for every one of my readers is that they might abandon the well-worn ruts of human nature for the high road, the path of original creative expression. There is but one prerequisite to achieving this goal: turning your back on idea that you must have to be.

You have everything you need to be yourself. In fact, you probably have to lose a few things to make room for the real you to shine through. What must be lost? Self-doubt, self-pity, self-deprecation, self-centeredness, self-righteousness and self-consciousness, for starters. It’s not so hard, really, in fact you need only train your attention serving others around you.

Serving others is in its essence the art and science of being a blessing. Blessings come clothed many ways. Exactly how you bless others is up to your interpretation. Your blessings may come dressed as a kind word or a hard saying. They may appear as generous assistance or if required, a deliberate cold shoulder to encourage another to step up. Regardless of their appearance, blessings are always fundamentally merciful, selfless and grounded in righteousness.

Dare to travel the open road. It stands before you here and now, in this and every moment.

5 thoughts on “The Open Road

  • I’ve learned not to judge how blessings should come and who was worthy of them. Righteous living shouldn’t be confused with pious. The first is inherent in love and the second is usually a result of judgement. What does the high road look like in living? I think Walt Whitman did a masterful job in describing it. Wonderful post, thank you.

  • Sure enough you’ve got to lose yourself so that you can find yourself as the saying goes. That’s the art of pruning well known to those who have grown stronger, more focused and purposeful in their lives. We have so many choices today to acquire things that it takes a firm sense of discipline to be able to let go of the things that don’t serve your sense of purpose for they just get in the way far more than we originally think.
    I sense in the poet’s words that he reached this understanding after some lament. This could take years to grasp if at all, or it could happen in short order given the desire to serve as you say, to be a blessing. That’s where purpose comes back again, the defining line which fuels all of these changes so that you have an engine to motorize your change. You won’t need to psyche yourself up constantly or self-affirm or visualize some ideal to try to gain momentum – the consistent focus of a purpose to serve is all that is needed to pedal your way to where it is you are going. All that is needed is good balance and steering along the way, and that’s the fun part, navigating the ever changing landscape of your life without losing speed or going off track. Life takes on a whole different level of meaning this way and the adventure truly begins!

  • When we are obsessed with “having,” we fail to see the blessings that are all around us. When we are content to “be”, it clears our hearts and minds to be able to see the opportunities in life.

  • Thanks for sounding the word that the open road is before us. To rest in being rather than having to be relaxes a lot of tension we may have been experiencing without knowing it. Here a new and refreshing vision can be know and a discernment to see what needs to go and what needs to stay.

  • People try to find freedom in many different ways. They think they could get freedom if they only travelled more. They think they could have freedom if their job wasn’t holding them down. If only they had more money, more time, more friends, less responsibities, etcetera, ad nauseum. Freedom doesn’t come from any of those things. Freedom comes from living a purposeful life, which almost always entails being a blessing and serving others. Anything else is destined to be disappointing.

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