There are certain days when I crave the sound of Frank Sinatra’s singing voice. It reflects an unexpected honesty that he had about himself despite his alleged dark reputation regarding some of his friends. Last night my Sinatra itch was scratched by playing his version of “My Way” on the stereo.
“And now, the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and every highway;
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.”
–Jacques Revaux, “My Way”
The song, particularly Frank Sinatra’s performance of it, is relate-able to millions of people. Its poetry is nostalgic yet not quite a confession. The words convey what many of us find difficult to express so eloquently.
In our honest, introspective moments we own our mistakes and celebrate our victories. Our journey on life’s highway has been filled with sadness and joy. What we have done with these lessons outlines who we have become.
In my own life, “my way” is a highway with four lanes. The lane furthest to the right is how I present myself to the public, moving forward. The next lane, is how I see myself, moving forward. Only my lover and a few friends travel with me in that lane. The next lane to the left is how I view myself, moving the other direction (oncoming traffic). The furthest left lane is my public reputation (again, oncoming traffic).
When I hear Sinatra’s voice on “My Way”, I visualize the oncoming traffic lanes heading back to where I’ve already been. You might think of a car making a U-Turn to cross the median strip in order to travel the opposite direction. After hearing the song, I cruise in the left lane awhile, then make another U-Turn and resume driving in the forward lanes.
It’s good to have a solid sense of direction in life but it’s wise to heed the signs along the way. There might be a left-curve arrow sign. If I stubbornly insist on going right or straight-ahead, I’ll soon crash into the ditch. So, it’s good to pay attention to the signs along the way so I don’t run the great risk of repeating someone else’s mistakes.
Sometimes, my way is a side road off the mainstream highway. I travel slowly, then pull off to the side for a leisurely stroll. Other times an emergency detour unexpectedly appears, so I am forced to leave the mainstream highway. The journeys away from the four-lane highway are usually the most memorable and potentially valuable ones along the way.
We choose the road on which we travel. Oftentimes, we consult a map to help us find the way to an ultimate destination. At other times there are no maps nor GPS guides to help us find the way. We eventually end up somewhere scary or someplace beautiful. Either way, we come away with valuable experiences.
For refreshing breaks, I sometimes like to take the side roads or walk a primitive path and enjoy the spectacular scenery. There are hazards along the way, too. Eventually, the time comes to return to the four-lane highway and resume the journey–feeling rejuvenated, with Sinatra on the stereo.
It’s good to know how to travel different kinds of roads. The combination and what I learned have so far been my way.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders an excerpt from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” by Friedrich Nietzsche. “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”