One time, some years ago, Joyce and I were hiking through a Michigan woods not far from our home. It was a fairly dense woods and there were not any significant trails. She looked at me a couple of times and then, rather quietly asked, "Do you have any idea where we are going?" That is not the best question to ask a somewhat self-assured man, and of course my response was, "Of course I do, why do you ask?" There was no response but a few minutes later she asked, "Do you REALLY know where we are going?" With a little impatience I responded, "Sure - we're headed east toward the river." She shook her head, evidencing some doubt but about five or ten minutes later we broke out of the woods at the shore of the Ausable River. I didn't say I told you so, but I must have had a smug look on face when she asked, "How did you know?" My answer, "I knew which way we were going by the direction of the sun." She looked satisfied but I thought to myself, "Thank goodness the woods wasn't as dense as some out west are, and I'm sure glad I knew the general direction of the river.
Which brings to mind that we often guide our directions by certain objects. In Seattle we might look for the Space Needle. In Paris our point of reference might be the Eiffel Tower. In London it might be the big Ferris wheel. In New York City it might be the Empire State Building. And in Kokomo, Indiana it was a gas tank.
When we would drive to Kokomo we would see the tank from miles away - long before we got to the outskirts of town. It had been built in the 1950's and was huge - almost four-hundred feet high. It served as a point of reference for anyone in the Kokomo area, even long-time residents.
But all things come to an end eventually - football stadiums, apartment houses, skyscrapers, old ships - and 387 foot tall gas tanks. As noted above, the walls of the tank came down by implosion in 2003. Having been gone from Kokomo for over twenty five years I wondered, when I drove into town this past week, where my key point of reference. Then I found it it wasn't there anymore. And I began to lose my sense of direction. I missed the old tank and so did a lot of people in Kokomo.
I guess it's consistent with the old saying, "Eventually, all things come to an end." Even when it means that walls are coming down.