One has to have lived quite a few decades to remember traveling across the USA without interstate highways. With today’s multi-lane highways, younger people do not know what it was like on the two-way roads that wound their way up and down steep inclines as they connected every town along the way.
I am quick to admit to having no desire to return to those days. But it is true that they had some assets that are lost with the interstates. Travel was slower, which usually meant we saw more scenery, stopped more often and connected with more people in their communities.
Tourists made mom-and-pop stores a thriving business. Every small town had one or several motels operated by local families. If you were in the habit of Sunday church, you probably visited one. That is how some of us were able to keep our perfect attendance record. Overall, the pace of life was slower and people took more time to enjoy the journey.
The interstates have changed much of this. We miss most of the towns, stay in large motel chain complexes and enjoy covering more miles in a shorter time. Hills have been cut down to fill valleys, so steep inclines are not an issue. Extra lanes allow us to pass slower vehicles safely.
The interstate highways cost a lot of money and took years to complete. Younger travelers today enjoy the benefit of all of this but have no way to genuinely appreciate it. They cannot understand the benefit of the present because they are not aware of how it used to be.
This reminds me of the mentoring process, as more experienced people help others develop skills. Mentors have done the hard work of cutting down hills and filling valleys so that their followers can go farther and faster in their life journey. The information highway in our country today far exceeds what was known half a century ago. But something has been lost in its development. Steep hills build character and endurance. Slow travel through small towns has a way of connecting us with reality. Our culture is focused on entertainment rather than on simple enjoyment.
Convenience has a way of replacing commitment. The benefit of mentors is hardly noticed as we rush forward to the next opportunity or adventure.
On a recent trip via the interstate, I reflected on the mentors who cut a path for me to follow. I was filled with gratefulness as I admitted that I did not even realize their input in my life at the time. I want to remember their example and try to be useful to someone who follows.