Careful What You Wish For…

We have lived in south central Virginia/piedmont North Carolina for nearly 39 years.  When we first moved into this area, a trip back “home” to East Tennessee included an arduous trek up a two-lane, wiggly-twisty, steeply graded mountain pass. The view from Lovers Leap at the top of the mountain always seemed to make the hard driving worth the effort. Unless, of course, one got stuck behind a hapless truck driver, his vehicle heavily loaded, laboring up the treacherous slope at a snail’s pace.

The return trip could be equally adventurous, especially if one failed to leave early enough to avoid that area after dark.   “Pea soup fog” was the norm, and I often wondered how many times our car could roll if we missed a curve. Many a night, we crept down that nightmarish road, heads hanging out of windows as we desperately tried to see the white line that marked our lane!

Needless to say, we rejoiced when the newspaper  reported plans to four lane that highway along the entire southern border of the state. Construction began, of course, with the easiest sections in the east, near the cost. Once that section of road work was finished, we could make the six hour trip to my in-laws near the beach in a record four hours.  (I confess that I was not enamored with this turn of events …my in-laws were from a different planet than I, so these efforts were largely lost on me!)

So … I waited impatiently for the final four lanes that would replace the treacherous, slow moving menace that separated  me from my family in Tennessee.  Ever so gradually, sections of the highway were finished, and our travel time dropped from 4+ hours to 3.5 hours. But as time marched on, I finally resigned myself to the reality that the four lanes wouldn’t be complete before we died or moved away from this area!

Fast forward to 2022. After many months of pandemic-restricted travel and other life crises, we  recently were able to make  a trip back to Tennessee. I was eager to drive the first leg of the journey; I love driving in the mountains.  The scenic road up past Lovers Leap became one of my favorites years ago. It was one of our escape routes when we needed a few hours away. Interestingly, the tediousness of the climb never was a bother when  we went to the mountains to relax.

Now, there are a few things I have witnessed with true horror during my 70 years:  The destruction  of the nation of Ukraine. Challenger’s explosion.  A jet flying into the north tower. The subsequent fall of two towers.  The January 6  raid on our Capitol.  And now…the Rape of the mountains.  Road work signs gave warning at least two miles ahead. But nothing prepared us for the chaotic scene, the unbelievable destruction,  more than half of the mountain tops totally obliterated! We watched as giant earth-movers scudded along, beetle-like, where dense forests stood only a few weeks ago, sucking up huge swaths of dirt, carving  deep obscene wounds, exposing uncounted square miles of virgin soil. A nightmarish scene now seared forever into my memory.

I wanted to scream obscenities at the workmen out there that day, to blame them for the violation. Fuming, I drove on past. And as the ugliness receded, an awful realization took its place. The fault for this travesty rested not on the workmen, but on impatient folks like me! On those of us who for years have complained about the inconvenience of the unimproved highway. A good hard look at myself revealed that my own selfishness and impatience, is often at the root of such “progress.”

I have lived a remarkably privileged life, enjoying the advances in technology that make our lives easier.  Today’s technology puts tremendous power at our very fingertips. We can literally move mountains, see every detail inside a living being, heal once-deadly diseases. Generally, if  we can dream it, we can do it.  I am haunted by the all-too-true reality that absolute power corrupts absolutely. With humility, I realize that truth applies not just to politicians, but also to those of us with access to the powers of modern computers. My privileged lifestyle brings with it hidden costs, expenses in terms of the sacrifices of other people and the environment. I am more convinced than ever that I must be careful what I wish for, because my wishes can become….no! Most likely, WILL become a reality. And, I suspect, the cost of those realities just may be far more expensive than any of us can grasp.

2 responses to “Careful What You Wish For…”

  1. Kay, you put into words the feelings that I have about the work up to Lover’s Leap .
    I cried when we drove up to see the colors of the trees. So sad.
    Such ugly holes replaced all the beautiful trees.
    Thank you for sharing, Linda

  2. Kay,

    Another beautifully written and thoughtful “article.” How many people do you send these to? Everyone who knows you knows of your musical gifts, but do they also know of your gift of putting thoughts into words on paper (or a computer screen)? I am trying not to be envious!

    Here is your grocery list from me. These are the perishable items for the Oreo dessert and the dried beef casserole/dip that I’m pretty sure you all will like!

    *1/2 gal. peppermint ice cream *2 sticks margarine *8 oz. Cool Whip *8 oz. cream cheese *1/2 cup sour cream *Bell pepper (only need 2 Tbsp) *Milk for me to drink/put on cereal (I usually drink fat free/skim but will be fine with whatever you all prefer)

    I know we will talk again by phone before I head out next Friday. So I don’t forget, remember for us to discuss if I need to bring clothes for anything other than being lazy around the house or going to the grocery store. I am willing to do whatever you want me to, including going to the Methodist church.

    Can hardly wait to see you again – Valerie

    Sent from my iPad


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