One of the oldest sayings about roads is, “All roads lead to Rome.” History buffs may say the original of that was something more like, “A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome.”
Well, Rome is someplace, isn’t it? It’s hard to imagine any road that doesn’t go somewhere. Except maybe a dead end. But even that goes somewhere… usually to somebody’s house who likes to live at the end of one.
One road (according to the Guinness Book of World Records) is so short that when you get to the end of it and turn around, you’re still at the beginning. It is Ebenezer Place in Wick, Caithness, Scotland, UK. That road measures just 6 feet 9 inches from end to end and has only one address: a door marked #1, a restaurant in Mackays Hotel, built in 1884. So even the shortest road takes you someplace.
So why does it matter? Because I found a road that really can go nowhere, if you really, really want it to. Here are a few hints, if you’d like to find it:
- It’s not the “Road to Nowhere,” the quirky rock song that David Byrne wrote for the 1985 Talking Heads album “Little Creatures.”
- It’s not quite the one that poet Robert Frost took either, though it comes a little closer. He famously describes it as, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
- And Charles de Lint, a Canadian writer of magical realism and urban fantasy, comes closest when he describes it. “When all’s said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it’s not so much which road you take, as how you take it.”
At its best, a road can be more than the quickest path from Point A to Point B. A road can be a journey of adventure, or romance or discovery.
So, some roads can go nowhere at all. If you try, it really doesn’t have to be a path to anywhere.
This week, the Jamestown Gazette brings you an invitation to a new path in town that can be just such a pathway… whenever you need it to be. Sometimes it is important to have nowhere to go at all, somewhere far from the urgency and hurry and worry of someplace you need to get to right away.
Take a stroll or ride down by the old riverside along the new Chadakoin Park Trail and Bike Path. There’s no toll to pay on that road because, if you do it right, it really goes nowhere… except anywhere your imagination might want to go.
If you remember the bygone era personally, you can take one more imaginary trolley ride across the grassy marshlands and through the woods filled with birdsong and sunshine. Or you can ride your bike through fresh air and greenspace and let your worries drift away. Fast runners, leisurely joggers and fascinated birders can also take this new path. It can lead you only to where you are… if it suits you, to nowhere else just for a while.
Even a somber soul like Edgar Allan Poe might have enjoyed it. He once said, “That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.”
So please come to Friday’s ribbon cutting to open the new Chadakoin Park Trail and Bike Path. Remember the wise advice from a man who really understood the importance of taking the road less traveled, the Bard of the Baseball Diamond whose sayings never grow old, Yogi Berra. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
If you understand Yogi, you understand the value of a road that really goes nowhere.
Enjoy the stroll, the ride and the read.
— Walt Pickut