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Lifestyle & Travel

Take The Road Never Taken

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How many times, in the rush of our daily lives, have we driven by a turn-off along the road and wondered where it led?

For me, it happened often.  The sign for a county Vietnam War Memorial – a war I fought in! – that I raced past for 20 years.  The driveway into an overgrown lot where a small abandoned church beckoned.  The turnoff to a wildlife preserve I had never seen.  And yet, each time the momentum of life – career, family, travel – always overran my best intentions to check it out. 

When I finally retired at 69, I decided:  no more.  If something piques my curiosity, I’m going after it.  And over the past year, I’ve done just that, exploring:

  • The War Memorial, where I found a stunning, outsized granite knife reaching to the sky, reflecting different colors as the sun moved around it.  Beautiful, somber, contemplative, it encouraged me to sit and remember my fallen brothers.
  • The little church, well, the front door was open and I walked in.  Wind and rain had broken through the windows and punished the interior.  One religious furnishing remained:  a blond oak altar table, engraved with the words: “This do in remembrance of me.”  It pained me to see that it would not survive.  At home, I tracked down the owners of the property (no longer the church) and sent them a letter.  Would they allow me to buy the table?  The owner not only said yes, but had it delivered to my home as a gift.
  • The wildlife preserve, which turned out to be magical.  With trails winding through field and forest and wetlands, the turkeys, geese and birds were abundant.  I came across some hikers, holding their palms out, and, astonishingly, birds alighted and ate seed from their hands.  “You want to try?” a young man asked.  “Yes,” I said.  The tickling of their claws, their very lightness of being, was delightful.  

I wished I’d done these and other such things much earlier.  But I was glad it wasn’t too late. 

Tips for taking the road never taken:

  • Turn off your GPS and roam.
  • If a roadside sign or a distant hill intrigues you, go there. 
  • Let your instincts tell you when you’ve “arrived.”
  • Get out of your car and savor what you’ve found.

A native of Omaha, NE, Paul Critchlow experienced success early by winning a football scholarship to the University of Nebraska. After graduating, he served in the U.S. Army, becoming a decorated Vietnam combat veteran. After a 30+ year career in journalism, government and finance, Paul retired in 2015. This summer he joined Pfizer as a 70 year-old “Senior Intern," seeing it as another chance to contribute, learn and grow. Learn more about Paul’s experience here.

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