On Burma Road: A Reflection by a Fellow Traveler

Photo by Carol Chessman.

By Edward Chessman ~ On a crisp, beautiful October morning I walked along the storied Burma Road connecting Kismet proper to the Lighthouse for an event commemorating the Montaukett tribe, an ancient people with a tormented past seeking recognition in 21st century America. It meant something to understand their trials and tribulations as we attempt to restore unity to our troubled nation. As such, I felt compelled to go and listen to their tale of woe and redemption, a way to become a better citizen and appreciate the suffering of those less fortunate. Inspired by the walk itself and what it symbolized as I trekked westward. As we journey through life, is it not worthwhile to consider the blessings of the day and the moment in time? The road is the great leveler of life, open for all to use, enjoy and gain access to a destination. This conduit has many uses: transport, tradesmen, law enforcement, provisions, material, and casual day-trippers; people from all social classes. In this case, the great beacon of light, truth and sanctuary lie ahead in the form of the stoic lighthouse. The presentation was quite impressive, with traditional prayer of gratitude to the earth, our precious vessel. Then an impassioned speech by leader Sandi Brewster-walker on the history of the Montaukett Tribe and their struggle for identity. Clearly the understanding and respect so richly deserved by these people shined through. There is hope as we try to find meaning in a cruel and unforgiving world. It was a moving experience to be sure.

As our own Walt Whitman opined in “Leaves of Grass” his seminal work, the classic “Song of the Open Road” came to mind. I thought not of fate or preconceived notions but more of freedom, free will and choice of mind. We are all faced with the task of making our way through the struggles but find secure footing on the well paved roads in front of us. As we embark on an adventure, we cannot entirely rid ourselves of past burdens and sad, unfortunate memories. Far better to appreciate the spirt, freedom and pleasure of a long walk on Fire Island. Through the bright blue skies and white dunes of sand, the brown gravel road embraces different things as Whitman’s prose evokes:

     “O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,

     You express me better than I can express myself,

     You shall be more to me than my poem”

As I pondered the day and returned noticing friendly people walking in opposite directions, getting closer to their destinations. Rickshaws, bicycles, golf carts, and wagons were in practical use on the road. It is the everyman’s channel, something all can relate to. Yet not everyone has the same purpose, as individuals follow their own paths. The journey can be solo but is much more preferred with a companion walking together in harmony and having a lively conversation. An opportunity to explore, learn something new or take a new point of view. Admiring nature and all it has to offer. Always consider the allure, the appeal, the approach of the open road and where it might lead. High adventure is never a boring proposition:

     “Camerado, I give you my hand!

     I give you my love more precious than money,

     I give you myself before preaching or law;

     Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?

     Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”