I am a sucker for song lyrics, perhaps because other’s words so often describe the melancholy or joy I feel in my soul, or it’s just me taking the easy way out, with words that capture my mood or moment. Song lyrics can take you a million miles away from reality or bring you closer to your world (I’m not citing these two songs because I’ve also read that if you use commonly spoken words or phrases, you may not have to cite…also if you know the songs associated with these phrases, feel free to let the music into your headspace!!!)

I used to write a monthly column for runners and incorporated song lyrics as well as described several songs that had specific time, place, and sensory meaning for me. Since then, I have read about the fair use laws and legalities associated with song lyrics and am more cautious when including lyrics – hint, hint, a topic we can learn more about from ACW!

I have learned that you can use a song title if you attribute it to the artist, and that forms the basis of this week’s writing prompt, my journey down the “Long and Winding Road,” the Beatles (1970).

One of the New York State parks near my home has a winter entrance that hides in plain sight – just my kind of adventure. I discovered it incrementally as the dirt road winds across a tableau of smaller lakes and ponds, hiking and snowshoeing trails, and remnants of another generation’s family life, life before the state bought the land and developed the park. At first, I would venture down the road only as far as I could still see my car in the remote parking lot. I would stop and absorb the reflection of the sky on the water, some days clear as glass, other days angry and lashing out at life around me. I noted the trees and their seasonal glory, frozen and glistening with ice in the winter, pregnant with spring blooms and full of life and leaves in summer. Fall is the best time of year to embrace these woods as the trees crest into their autumn fullness. My own moods travel with me wherever I go, mostly optimistic, sometimes sad, sometimes curious, always eager to catch the energy of the season.

Over the years I gained confidence that I could safely navigate the two-mile road because it ended at the far side of the state park’s public beach, far enough away from the summer day camps that brought energetic children to the beach, far enough away from the lovers sharing an afternoon on a rowboat, far enough away from others so that I could sit on the dock, clear my mind, open myself up to the possibility of life.

Occasionally I would have company on my dock, folks looking to fish for the day, families not wanting or able to pay admission to the park, other dreamers perspectivating on their world. I found a big flat rock, close to the dock, on the shoreline, where I could continue my solitude, my aloneness, the leap of faith that my soul craved.

I love watching the seasons change from this terminus, this end of the road that opens into limitless possibilities for my curiosity. I am reminded that this is the “Sound of Silence,” Simon and Garfunkel (1964).

Lest I sound like my music selections are all 50+ years old, I am also influenced by “Survivor” by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, and other contemporary songs like Amos Lee’s “Worry No More”, both 2021 music debuts. Yet, interestingly enough, when I walk that long and winding road I walk in silence, listening for the deer and the birds, and the sound of the creeks and streams trickling past me. I stop and say a silent prayer for the family who are buried in the tiny 1860’s cemetery that sits up beyond a hand-laid stone fence. I reach my arms out wide and feel the wind, or the sun, or the rain as it tickles my skin, and I am reminded of my purpose here and why I walk the long and winding road.

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