The Wayward Son

Facing Your Fears, Part Four

There were four frightening events that happened in my life when I was very young.  They forever changed the way I lived my life going forward.  Like the legends of old the stories’ outcomes are about facing fear and finding the way to walk life’s path with courage and confidence.  I call these stories The Four Faces of Fear.  This is part four of my journey beyond fear.


Legend has it that the wayward son will come home only to leave again.

The Alabama sun was hot for September and the air shimmered in the heat.  The railroad tracks seemed to go on forever; the track was straight and disappeared into the distance.  The rocks crunched under my boots, the soles were wearing thin from the miles of walking and hours of working in the fields.

I spent most of the summer working the tobacco, cotton and cornfields.  I even worked a little in the peach orchards near home in South Carolina.  It was back breaking work for a teenager but it was something I needed.

The work was healing to my soul.  A soul that carried battle scars from the last few years of playing music on the road.  I put the essentials into a backpack, purchased two pairs of boots, one for hiking and one for working.  I then walked to the nearest highway and stuck my thumb out.

I traveled from the Carolinas to Shreveport working on farms for a little cash and meals.  I think it was more about getting to know myself and learning about life than finding myself.  I never felt like I was lost.  I felt alive and filled with a sense of adventure.  It was great to sit by a campfire miles from nowhere just listening to the night sounds, the whippoorwill and owl.  There is nothing more breathtaking than looking at the night sky while lying on your back.  I understood why Johnny Cash loved the sound of a train whistle.  It is a haunting sound, a sound that makes you want to go wherever the train would go.  You could feel the tracks rumbling way before you could see the train coming.

I spent many nights riding in a box car never knowing where I would be taken to.  There is no better sleep than the rocking of a freight train.  That was the summer that I lived my childhood dream of being like Tom Sawyer, and became a pilgrim on life’s highways and byways.  It was the summer that I lived life in the moment, going for the sake of going.  I had no destination in mind.  I sat by the campfires with families that travel the south to work the hot dusty fields.  It was the summer I left my childhood behind but carried my imagination with me on my journey.

The fall was upon us with the days cooler and the night carried a chill.  The railroad tracks were nearing my home.  I saw houses nearby where people I knew lived.  I would be home soon.  Mom would have an apple pie cooling in the window.  My dog would start barking as I neared the house.  I could see Mom looking out the window as she always did waiting for me to come home.

Point Of View

Sometimes we travel not to run from our fears but to run toward them, meeting them head-on.  We travel to learn of life and the mysteries and knowledge it may teach us.  My journey that summer changed my life forever.  It taught me that within me I had the strength to travel the road, the knowledge to make decisions that allowed me my adventure yet kept me safe.

Life can be faced the same way.  We can be bold and fearless and learn from the many places that the tracks take us.  Life provides for us many opportunities if we can embrace that sense of adventure and have the courage and faith to walk through the doors that life opens.  Most of all I learned how few things I really needed to be happy and that opportunities to help people be kind and caring would always be there in abundance.  My Mom called me her wayward son.  My Daddy just put his hand on my shoulder and smiled asking me where I was off to next.

Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
I have 40 years of Retail Management experience. I am the person they send in to fix things. Call it a Store Focus Specialist, a Smoke Jumper, an Outlaw. I can work within the system or go outside the box when needed. I love walking into chaos and bringing order. I am not a key word person and my education came from mentors not schools. I believe that everything that we do starts with hiring the right people. Driving sales, merchandising, customer service and metrics are just keywords until you hire the right people. My top talents are Recruiting, hiring, training, associate development, and going into a focus store and turning it around. Most importantly I believe in people and that if you teach them, develop them and believe in them they will do far more than they thought possible.


  1. Beautifully expressed Larry and so nostalgic. There is something oh so special about coming home. The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.

    It took me over 25 years to “return home” after serving in as many countries. Yes, things changed, but as F. Scott Fitzgerald put it so nicely, “It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realized what’s changed is you.”

    BUT tearfully I remembered my mum saying, “I left the light in my heart on in case you ever wanted to come back home.”

    Then it dawned on me to realize how beautiful it is to travel until we come home and rests our head on our old, familiar pillow. Home is more than just a shelter, it’s where we love, it’s where we feel, it’s where we can be ourselves and it’s where life happens.

  2. Wayward is usually a label put on a person who wanders without purpose. In your search for yourself you came to understand that helping others is the way to help yourself. I believe the ability to be a helper is a gift and it’s a gift to be used lavishly. You are a leader, yet you have never lost your sense of adventure in serving.

  3. Your writing touches the chords of my heart, Dear Friend Larry! The urge to share your life’s wayword moments and use the same to deliver a strong message of persistence is truly an art you have mastered beyond doubt, Dear Sir!

    Thanks a lot for letting us in on one of your life’s (wayward) journies…



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