In July I took a trip across the country to visit friends and check in on my father, who lives just about as far away from my home as its possible to be in our contiguous states. While it wasn't my first trip across the country, I was moved in a way that I hadn't been before. The stories that began in Missouri at the head of the Santa Fe trail or tailed off into the wilds of the Rocky Mountain peaks – somehow I was hearing things anew.
I was connecting dots between Native trails, scrappy pioneers, and belligerent entrepreneurs in ways that made the history of train travel and later our highways come alive in ways they had never been.
There seemed to be a living energy, historic animation in every tale I heard.
Perhaps our time – our "age" – gives to history's lessons a heightened urgency that I feel now in my forties as a father. Maybe its the rugged political tides of the last election that have made the push and pull of our history feel so diminished in their ability to stir our better selves. Or can it be bewildering global changes that overwhelm the quaint ideals and mechanisms birthed of an agricultural economy rooted in continental laws that have buckled under the strain of a complex, interdependent world?
Whatever the causes I came away from the last trip determined to meet more of my fellow travelers, to discuss our time and our democratic prospects.
This country is enormous and filled with promise – our youth, our talent, our natural resources, and entrepreneurial spirit; our institutions and democratic heritage and the protections and the graces that have sprung from them give hope to millions.
I'm excited to learn how these things are conceived and passed down as ideals and democratic aspirations, region by region, home by home.