A year ago around Christmas, I stopped at this display of roadside junk, or at least that's what it appeared to be in the distance. As we approached, I noticed it was an elaborately constructed and seemingly purposeful arrangement of discarded goods. A pair of white satin high-heels peeked over an old wooden board, and there was also poetry written and displayed along, and on top of, a vintage Cadillac. It is hard to imagine how this large amass of oddball things could be sitting near the road, and what purpose did it serve?
It wasn't long before the answers came, when a kind Southern-speaking old man appeared to talk about his art work. I am not going to mention his name, but he spoke of how his family had congregated thru much of America's early history on that very crook of road as "business people" or peddlers. He felt that since the family tradition of selling goods on that very stretch of the road was so profound, he needed to find a way to continue the family presence. Now, many people would look at that old heap of rusted Cadillac and call it out as an eye sore that served no purpose. I would also suspect that a great deal of folks would find the art and cohesion of it, something of a modern-day Americana work of pure art. I have to admit the poems were interesting and he even invited you to make one up and leave it for others to read.
I had to ask if anyone had actually purchased an item off his four-wheel display. I was surprised when he said, "yes, and not only that several families have been able to find some shoes and toys this time of year, and if I know they're coming sometimes the items will look a little better." I took this to mean that he may purchase quality items to lay with the other older relics, leaving those who come in need able to find a treasure indeed. It is entirely up to the visitors as to leave a donation, a poem, or take something needed from this art work on the road side. He got great joy out of talking to the kind folks that stopped by and visited, and he loved to sit under a tall Sycamore tree on the other side of the road, in a chair and watch passersby.
I thought about how much joy and meaning this road-side venture brought him. And I thought about the times I had passed it in previous years without a second thought, but "what crazy put all that up there." My heart was more in tune to the display after he told me his hopes, his vision, and the way it brought light to his life. He even wrote me my very own poem! I can't say I have had that experience too often, and right there on the stop without a hiccup in the rhyme, I came away with some artwork! There was a meaning for all of this, and it was obviously up to the viewer to determine something of value. He said, "It was sure fun to see what people came up with."
What does all this mean? It means, it is up to us to construct meaning and joy in our lives. It might not look like everyone else's vision, and that is totally okay to not have the same agenda as the rest of the planet, or one that makes sense from the outside looking in. All those items laying around are just that, and funny how we work our whole lives for "things." Seeing all of the worn-out shoes, dishes, and dolls was a stark reminder that the real value of things I am working on better have more longevity than any man-made contraption. The time, the love, the compassion, and the effort I give the people around me will always keep. If you feel caught up in accumulating things, just remember that one day it will all end up in somebodies pile, but what you cultivate in the way of relationships will last all the day's of their life.