The Trace as Metaphor

The Natchez Trace Parkway is actually pretty boring. Because of its design, every mile is pretty much like the last. Trees and more trees, hills and more hills. From the parkway you cannot see life going on. It is a 444 mile long park with few roads coming on to it. The park is not wide, but it is wide enough that life is blocked out.

A couple of days ago we biked through the city of Jackson Mississippi and other than experiencing an increase in the amount of traffic we really wouldn’t have known there was a city there. We will bike the length of the state and unless we leave the parkway we will never really know what it is like.

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Last night, since there was no convenient accommodation near the parkway, we went off, seven miles, to the town of Eupora. Here we find a Mississippi that is not at all represented on the parkway, a place where people live and work, of barbecued ribs and grocery stores, a place with a struggling down town and friendly people.

Our lives are sometimes like the parkway, sheltered on either side from real life, the same every day, but very safe and secure, protected from the traffic of real life. We can become content with this life, this sameness, but to really experience the world, to understand it, to enjoy it, we need to get off the parkway.

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