The Tail of the Dragon refers to a road that borders the Great Smoky Mountains between Tennessee and North Carolina. Over an 11 mile stretch the road has 318 curves. It’s a popular motorcycle ride. But the reason I want to bring it up is because of the way it represents life. Life throws you curves, sometimes a lot of curves. You wake up one day finding yourself 50 years in and aren’t quite sure where you are.
When I was 18 years old I wanted to be a computer programmer. I had the skills and was taking college level courses to attain this. I entered Arizona State University in the Engineering College for computer engineering. The first curve to be thrown was my own failure at college. I spent too little time on studies, and too much time making money and exploring my new adult freedoms. The next curve came when I found a young woman and married her. She came with a son, and the next curve involved me adopting him.
As curves go, the next one was a nasty hairpin. My father passed away at age 49 from a sudden heart attack. The call came in the middle of the day, at work and I was numb for a week. It took a while for color to come back to my world. The curves got better, my employment improved, income increased, but the next curve wasn’t so much fun. I got myself in some financial trouble and had to work myself out of it. Several quick twisty turns that weren’t fun, and weren’t predictable. Home ownership was soon a nice wide gentle curve that I could smile through. The next one was the birth of twins, a boy and girl, what a wonderful blessing. But the dark forest wasn’t through with me yet, more hairy curves, with unseen ends were awaiting. Separation, divorce, child support and alimony all came calling rather quickly.
The next few years were a twist with a new relationship. A gentle curve with a new marriage. Another gentle curve with another child. Then hospital, and new drama from the ex wife and other children. It felt like I was doing downhill skiing and moguls. But then a straightaway came up at just the right time, and I started to think and reason and wonder, what was the world all about.
A hard bitter curve came next with the suicide of my brother in law. This was horrific. Then my decision to break off unification with my three kids from my first wife. There wasn’t much gas in the tank so I pulled into a sheltered location and found Christ. He didn’t change my circumstances, but he changed my outlook. He changed my perception, and my goals. More nasty curves with back issues, surgeries with my wife, losing a house and moving across country. But the forest didn’t seem so dark. There were flowers on the side of the road. Then came a dirt road stretch where a layoff, unemployment, and a failed business lived. But those weren’t as bad as other curves. They seemed gentle in comparison.
My father would have been 75 today. It has been just a little more than 25 years since he left us and I miss him. I don’t know where his heart was in regard to Christ, I can only hope that I see him again on the other side. But I remember that he helped me tune the bike that went through so many curves. What he started, Christ has helped me to finish.
Now I see a bigger road in my future. That includes maybe a coast to coast ride. Maybe not so many curves, maybe some complete surprises. All I know is that I’ve got the best co-pilot I could have. I have a wonderful family, and a wonderful circle of friends and acquaintances. I now know the joy that the bible speaks of, and it doesn’t come from things, but from the relationships that I have now and will cherish forever.
My wife and I now own a farm in Tennessee. We are learning more about working the land. We will be planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. In this world, and the world beyond.