Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Right Where I Want To Be (for the next 24 hrs. anyway)

Man standing on rural road holding road map, head obscured by map

I've wanted to live on the coast of Maine, on a lake in Vermont, in the Berkshire Mountains, in the Texas Hill Country, in the boulder formations of Arizona high desert, on an island in Puget Sound, on a river in Central Oregon, in lavender fields in the Willamette Valley, on the red cliffs of the Colorado Monument, on a farm in the Amish country......for starters. Just in the last few years.

Almost every time I visit a new place, I want to live there. Within 24 hours I have memorized the local Homes and Land Magazine and scouted out the best views, coffee, and places to eavesdrop (which is the only good way to get to know the local vibe. It's like visiting colleges---forget the formal presentations and head for the bookstore and cafeteria. Alone. And listen.)

You'd think I live in a miserable place. I don't. In fact, I live in a place so close to perfect that finding fault with it is like trying to find the wrong side of the tracks in Heaven itself.

So what's up with that?

I mean, roots feel good. They hold you in place when the weather gets rough. They feed you from down deep when pickings are slim on the surface. They spread out and define your place, your breadth, your mark, your territory. They tell you who you are. Right now, at least.

We're all a bit territorial, let's face it. Like Robert Frost said, "Good fences make good neighbors." Partly because they help define our turf. Our edges. Our tribal land. Our comfort zone.

Yet I know few people (admittedly, there are some) who don't try on the idea of change, dream of new kinds of community, imagine different ways to live. Simpler lives, perhaps. Or more focused ones. Perhaps more open to serendipity. Or just...different.

I love my life. I have been blessed with people and experiences that define my little mark in this world, however modest, and the opportunities to pursue them with unfettered passion. But there is more to come. Different things.They will all, in the end, weave the fabric of my own unique existence here.

My fantasy is to live a year in every place that pulls at me. Four seasons in every little world that has teased me with promise. Which is completely unreasonable, hence the term fantasy. But how great would that be?

Those who love to travel know that it is transformative---sometimes in big, gut-busting ways and sometimes in small, measured whispers. The places and people you discover in locales different from home plant their seeds in your brain and go with you on to the next place, and return home with you, marking out a new spot in your soul.

So don't you just get curious sometimes? What parts of yourself would erupt from latent hibernation? There is such promise in open-ended journeys. So much room for my favorite friend, serendipity.

I guess it's not practical to take risks that big. Perhaps not completely pleasurable, either.

But somehow it seems that we humans are here on this earth for no other reason than to love and learn and to encourage the learning of others (which is really what love is, in many ways.) There is so much to learn, and let's face it, you can't keep growing in the same school, library, class, etc. forever. It is the unfamiliar that points us inward, makes us find our own inner yardstick with which to measure the world around us.

And learning means change. In fact, learning cannot exist without change---it is both the process and the by-product.

So even when we live in a perfectly sunny climate---we long for seasons. We live in a city and long for open spaces. We live in the country and long for urban vigor.

It's not that we're unhappy. It's not that we're unappreciative.

It's just that we're born to be somewhat discontent. It's a good thing. It makes us keep moving, in one way or another, toward new experience. And new perspectives.

This doesn't have to happen in the context of a geographical move. Sometimes just identifying the lure of a different locale can give us the tool to transform life right here where we started.

But stepping away gives us fresh eyes. Stripping away routine gives us a clean slate.

Unless you empty a bucket that's full, you can't get anything new into it. Vacations are like dumping out the bucket contents and collecting new perspectives to take home with you.

I'm shopping for a big new bucket tomorrow. I feel another road trip calling.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post. However, as much as I love exploring new territory, overhearing conversations, trying on something new, I often can find that close to home. My own "backyard" keeps changing all the time-- new people enter, some people leave, a garden looks a bit different, one road is closed for repairs, a new house goes up.
    Also, if you go back and read the Frost poem again, you will see that the line: "Good Fences make good neighbors" is said ironically. Frost's alter ego in the poem didn't see a reason for the wall, and I like the idea of the walls coming down....