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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

'281' Your Life

Interstate 35

There are two ways to drive from Dallas to San Antonio, Texas. One is to drive down Interstate 35, passing through the state capital and several other cities on a road, which has two lanes for most of the trip. The speed limit varies from 60 to 70 miles per hour, but in reality, one goes as fast as possible in the left lane, while slower traffic crawls along in the right. The on ramps are notoriously short, so the unsuspecting (more likely uncaring) driver entering the freeway has little room to accelerate and merge with the stream of trucks and cars.

Delays due to accidents are inevitable, especially around Austin. A resident I know who used to be a policeman in Austin told me that there is a one-mile stretch of I-35 with more fatalities per mile than any other road in the United States. They referred to it as the 'valley of death.' Traffic is also unexplainably slow at both the south and north sides of the capital city.

The road itself runs over the rolling hills that represent the remnants of the Hill Country to the West. This makes cruise control more of a nuisance than a help, as our car would not accelerate in anticipation of the climb ahead.

In addition, this two hundred and fifty mile stretch of highway used to come at the end of a twelve or sixteen hundred mile drive from visiting family and friends in the Northeastern United States. After a week or two away from home, and coming at the end of the second day of driving, I would have to be more cautious and vigilant than I had been for the previous miles. I dreaded this part of the trip the most.

US 281

Contrast the above experience with that of US 281. US 281 cuts through the heart of San Antonio, climbing out of the northern suburbs and straight through the Hill Country, passing West of Fort Worth. On the open road, the speed limit is 70 mph, and one has to slow down to as low as 30 while passing through scenic towns and villages. The road is one lane going each way, but the shoulder of the road is wide and paved, and folks move to the side for faster traffic. Where the road climbs a long hill, there is an extra lane for slow traffic.

The scenery, when you crest the top of these hills, is beautiful. One can see for miles in every direction, with a long ribbon of highway stretching out in the distance. The sensation of being on top of the visible world is heightened by the presence of low-hanging clouds, and occasional mist in the early morning hours. Most of all, you can safely take your eyes off the road to appreciate the beauty of the Texas Hill Country.

In life, we often have a choice of how we want to live our lives. With age and experience, I find more often, that I am trying to '281' my life; to look for the more enjoyable or pleasant way of life. This is not say that I am becoming lazy or soft, but when given the option, I would rather spend time enjoying the ride as opposed to dreading it. No matter what way I drive to get there, or choose to live my life, I still have to make it to Dallas, and eventually come to the end of my own life.

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Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
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Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

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