“Tale” of the Dragon

Have you ever wondered if your GPS “lady” hates you? I have. I always suspected she did, but now I’ve confirmed it. She’s out to get me. No, I’m not being paranoid. Just stating the obvious.

On my pilgrimage in recent days, I was traveling south of Knoxville, Tn., to Georgia. I routed on the GPS the parameters of where I was going (actually, atop the highest mountain in Georgia) to see a college friend who retired there.

The GPS routed me immediately off I-75 onto the back roads and into back woods of North Carolina. And part of that route: Route 129, also known as “The Tail of the Dragon.” 318 turns in 11 miles. The curviest pavement in America. A place where bikers go to prove their mettle and impress their womenfolk and friends. A place where at least one person is killed each year and accidents are likely. A place where (as I learned at the completion and my entry into North Carolina) there is a monument called, “The Tree of Shame,” with hanging car and motorcycle parts for those who didn’t successfully complete the drive.

I didn’t know I was on the Tail of the Dragon. The GPS lady just forgot to mention that. She didn’t offer a safer, alternate route. She should have said, “If you’re feeling suicidal, here’s the route for you.” I only realized where I was when I came to the bottom.

When I arrived at the peak of the Tail, turned a corner and two photographers were stationed there, standing in the middle of the road, to take what I had begun to think were “the last pictures of this person ever seen alive” to help your next of kin identify you. I didn’t buy one, (one of the companies had a tent called “Killboy”) but I’m sure it would have shown a wide-eyed, white-knuckled guy driving an SUV where only sports cars and motorcycles dare to tread.

But, as you might conclude from this post, I did survive. And I learned something. Sometimes we find ourselves on “the dragon’s tail” and we don’t realize it… for a while.

Life throws twists and turns our way that we never saw coming. A hurricane blows our way. A child gets arrested or expelled from school. A spouse leaves. Cancer takes a loved one.

I drove the tail, mostly on four wheels, and tried to hang on and enjoy the ride. Hard to do when a curved road on the edge of a mountain with NO guard rails is where you are at the moment. But that’s life, isn’t it?

Some of you are on “the Tail of the Dragon” today. Not by choice. You didn’t see the curves coming. Fear meets you around every twist and turn. Uncertainty about your future looms.

I heard someone say once that fear is a condition, but trust is a volition. The Psalmist said “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3). Fear is a condition, sometimes caused by the curves we are thrown in life. But trust is a choice. An act of the will. When we trust, we can find peace and calm even when the winds blow…

…and the “tail of the dragon” is the road you’re passing through.

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