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In America, you can get there from here

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A man who got lost on some back roads asked a local resident how to get to a particular location.

“Well, you go a mile down this road,” the man responded, “take a right at the first paved road, cross a creek and pass a school, then go three miles until....”

He stopped and said, “No, that’s not right,” and then he told of a different route, with its turns, stops and landmarks, only to hesitate and say that was not the way either.

Trying once again and with similar results, he threw up his hands and said, “Mister, you just can’t get there from here.”

Can you get to where you want to go from where you now are? To do so, a person needs to determine where he wants to go. In the story of Alice in Wonderland, Alice asked the Cheshire cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The cat responded, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t care much where,” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.

It’s unlikely anyone will get there — wherever “there” is — unless he has some idea of where he’s going.

People may find themselves lost in a job or in some intolerable life situation, so that they cannot find their way out. They may be so ensnared by circumstances that they don’t even dream of escaping. For them, it seems true that “You can’t get there from here.” They may be locked in hopeless domestic situations, trapped by substance abuse or born in families whose aspirations for something better are suppressed.

In the United States, almost all individuals have an opportunity to change their circumstances and lives. Here any person can rise above his beginnings to become whatever he or she wants to be. But to move into these new areas of life, a person must see where he wants to go and then pursue and make sacrifices to get there.

Many have laughed at Andy Griffith’s recording of “What it was was football,” in which a man came into the unfamiliar surroundings of a college town on the day of a big football game. Seeing some waiting people, he got into a line, which, unknown to him was moving toward a stadium ticket booth. When he reached the booth, he was asked if he wanted to buy a ticket.

He blurted out, “Ticket? Why brother, I don’t even know where it is that I’m a-going.”

The wise Archimedes said, “Give me a standing place and I will move the world.” The same is true for us in whatever little worlds we find ourselves living and struggling. If we can get a proper place to stand, we can move some of the worlds around us. We can get there from here.

And if we get there, or anywhere, we must make our start from right where we are, the only starting place we have. Many people have overcome physical handicaps to become outstanding athletes, overcome poverty to became significant world leaders, overcome speech handicaps to became public speakers and overcome illiteracy to become outstanding educators.

It is not true that “You can’t get there from here.” Just the opposite is true, you can get there from here. In fact, this is the only place from which anyone can get anywhere. Perseverance is an essential, but more is needed.

We cannot always wait for circumstances to change; we may need to initiate the changes. We cannot wait for opportunity to come to us; we must search for the opportunity. There are “breaks” to be sure, which open doors and help us to get there, but we must attempt to make the breaks.

We can do this by starting right where we are. We can get there from here, and we should try hard to do so.

Ray Hodge is a Kenly native and a retired minister. Reach him at