There are 2,7000,000 miles of paved roads in the United States. Variously called “avenue,” “court,” “road,” “parkway,” “lane,” “terrace,” “boulevard,” “street” and “highway,” these ribbons of concrete and asphalt traverse our country from North Dakota to Texas and California to Rhode Island. Whether you’re traveling across town or across the county, these thoroughfares can help you get there. You can arrive at the grocery store, the beach or a sporting event. You can take an avenue to your place of business, to pick up the kids from school, deliver the laundry and dry cleaning or purchase dinner. And dessert.
We name streets after trees—pine, oak, walnut, cherry, maple and cypress—after birds—falcon, swan, eagle, duck, oriole or robin—and famous people—Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Polk, Fillmore, Martin Luther King, Pocahontas and Houston.
Sometimes roads get their names from points of interest, geology or geography. Like Natches Trace Parkway, Turkey Creek Road, Ocean Boulevard, High Point Ridge Road, the Appalachian Trail and of course, the many Dam Roads. Most towns have a Church Street and Main Street, and many have a University Avenue or College Lane.
In Clarksville, Tennessee there is a road named Joy Drive. I happened upon it one Sunday morning while making my way to church. I was immediately intrigued by the name. Who was it that gave this street it’s appellation? I wondered if the people who live on Joy are happier than other people in town. Do they experience more pleasure or delight, two synonyms for “joy”? I wondered if you get chosen to live on Joy Drive by a vote of the current residents, or if you’re allowed to make the choice yourself. I’ve also wondered if you have to be joyful to even be considered as a homeowner, or if you simply become happier once you live there.
Of course I might be making all this up and the physical street you live on has no connection with your emotional state.
While a few dozen people live on a literal drive named “Joy,” many other people choose to live joyfully no matter the name of the street upon which they reside. They make a choice each day to live with a sense of delight in their life, often a sense of pleasure that has nothing to do with their actual circumstances.
In the same way that some might choose to live on Joy Drive, but many others have decided to reside on Anxiety Avenue or at the corner of Bitterness and Heartache. Others might camp out on the cul-de-sac of Disappointment, going in circles, never stopping, hanging on to their pain and hurt and woundedness. Depression Lane, Avenue of Regret and Anger Terrace are a common landing spots for many of us.
The point is, of course, that while we can’t all live on a street actually named “Joy,” we all chose the place where we reside. And because the choice is up to us, we can choose to make a change in our location by changing our emotional, physical or spiritual address.
Where do you live? Are you content to be there? Would you like to change your location? It’s up to you. Change is possible, often desirable. And the power to choose is within your grasp