I have always loved the thought of wagon trains crossing the unexplored American West and arriving at distant destinations filled with the hope of a new beginning. I live in the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon where I hope to spend the rest of my days. The first wagon train into this valley was in 1846. It was called the Applegate Wagon Train. After moving here in 1999, I found out this wagon train contained some of my relatives. I have other relatives connected to that wagon train buried in the historic cemetery in the small town where I now live. My ancestral home was discovered for me 168 years ago by a group of pioneering relatives trying to find a new and shorter route into the vast Oregon Territory.
My fascination with the West began as a young boy when my father would take our family on adventures along the dusty back roads of Northern California just a few miles south of where I now live. On one such trip we discovered an old abandoned wagon. This was in the 1950’s so the wagon was still somewhat intact. Mom asked dad to take the wheels off the wagon. Those were different days. Today, we would have wisely contacted a local historian who would have salvaged an important piece of history. Dad made a trip to the nearest town to secure the needed tools for the wheel removal. Upon his return, and after some sweat and muscle, the wagon wheels were loaded into our pickup truck for the ride home.
Over the years those wagon wheels decorated our flower garden. In the decades that followed, the wooden spokes decayed and eventually loosened their grip on the wagon wheels rim. Whenever I passed the wagon wheels, I wondered who were the souls that traveled in the wagons atop those wheels toward a land of promise. The wheels were part of the historic evidence of a life-journey.
Your life, long after your journey is over, will leave behind the evidence of your passage. What will remain of your life along your trail that someone can pick up and take with them on their journey? Most of the time it will not our visible success that people pick up – it will be the things we chose to leave behind that encumbered our journey. These things will be the most significant encouragement to those who follow. These discarded elements from our lives will tell those who follow our history that we saw something ahead of us of greater significance that made us willing to let go of what we carried.
Today, don’t be afraid to leave some things behind as you continue your journey. Maybe a possession or an attitude or even a relationship needs to be released. Some day someone will discover these decisions of sacrifice and they will remind them of a difficult choice someone made that helped them continue on to their life-destination. The evidence you leave behind will create a trail of memories that will become the history of your journey. Many times the early pioneers would arrive at their destination stripped of the very things they thought they needed to survive the journey only to find out what they carried in their heart was the greatest treasure.