Over the past few years my son and I have travelled overland to several of our nation’s National Parks. We’ve covered the east coast, much of the southwest and southern California, along with Utah, Nevada and Colorado. We stick to the old roads and we stick together and we leave the complications of the everyday in favor of the grandeur of the country and the joy of new experiences.
On the way back from The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, crossing the great midwest for the umpteenth time and processing the growth one enjoys when the quiet has a place to live, I started thinking about the definition of a great country. Not so much the politics or culture of one, but the actual definition — where it starts, where it ends actually. We were in the middle of it, but somewhere out there were the lines that stopped it from being another country. The edges. Some physical, some agreed to, some accepted by force. On those edges are citizens who, but for a few feet of distance, or a geological event, would be of another country.
Do the edges hold us in? Having established them what satisfied us that they were sufficient? Why, having ventured beyond them, do we long so much to return to their comfortable embrace? Our’s is a remarkable country, made more so by the commitment to to make it available to all, held together by its history, its mixture of culture and willingness to work, to fail, to learn; and by its edges. Let’s have a look at them.
Over the course of the next year or so, joined I hope by my son and others for some it, I’m going to travel the edge of our country — one complete lap. I don’t know what I’ll find but I’m very sure what they hold in, and I’m grateful for their grasp.