I was going to write about the Declaration of Independence and what it meant for a fledgling nation to declare war against the superpower of the time, an important and timely topic to be sure. Bella wrote about freedom beautifully on the 4th. If any of you missed her post, it’s worth a look. It’s beautifully written and I find I have little to add to her fine work.
So this July what’s of import? Lot’s I suspect. The height of summer is upon us and there’s lots to celebrate just being alive. I live in south-eastern Wisconsin, where I’ve lived in various small towns my entire life. Here there are Memorial Day parades down main street followed by 4th of July parades down main street, County fairs just off main street and Labor Day picnics and barbecues. It’s pedestrian and, well, nice. I’m thirty five minutes from Milwaukee’s lovely lakefront and ninety minutes from Chicago’s. So nestled in all this small town-ness is the opportunity to live large in the city. It’s pretty ordinary really, the every-day-ness of it eclipsing at times the specialness of time and place. Sometime appreciating what we have requires distance. This July I’m hoping to appreciate it while being present. I’m finding the task harder perhaps than it should be.
Usually this is the month my family and I go on vacation. Sometimes to the Rockies. Sometimes to Ontario. Sometimes to New Mexico, specifically Santa Fe. This year things are different. Jobs are different. Children are different; older, more independent, with their own lives that have little to do with me or their father. We’re busy with a new business and sticking closer to home.
So what does one do in a small town where streets can be comforting or claustrophobic on any given day? Well, for one who travels to expand my soul and my spirit, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit stifled. I shouldn’t, but there it is. So what’s a girl to do when she’s stuck at home longing for new sights? Journey inward is always a good choice. Books, books, and more books. I’m reading more and writing more and trying to adjust to having more time to do what I want with fewer resources than I had a year ago. Weird, all the way around.
So what opportunities does this new life bring? Well, this July I’ve been to the largest Renaissance Faire in the U.S. twice so far (It’s been open only 2 weekends and I’ve been both). I’ve been going since I was a little girl since it’s in the small town where I grew up, Bristol, Wisconsin. Summerfest, the world’s largest music festival is held at Milwaukee’s lakefront ten days at the end of June and beginning of July. I spent more days there this summer than ever before. Irish Fest, the world’s largest Celtic festival is coming up in August. I sponsor a team for Arthritis research every year for the run/walk to Irish Fest at Milwaukee’s lakefront. This year I’m sponsoring two. One for my dojo. One for our new haggis business. As much as I love it, it is something I’ve done every year for many years. (And now I sound so whiny I’d like to slap myself…I need a vacation!)
So why are my feet itchy beneath me? I need to change my routine. I need to see new places and do new things. It’s a need imprinted in every cell of my body. Traveling gives a new perspective and it makes me more thankful for what I have in my own backyard. It also clears the cobwebs from my psyche, especially when I visit the mountains. Something about their grandeur and my being present in it makes life more clear and more basic. I will be going to the Rockies for a few days in September and my palms are itchy just thinking about it. The visit is for business, not pleasure, but I’m pretty sure I’ll find pleasure in the journey.
And that’s ultimately the goal, I think. To find pleasure in the journey whether it’s just to my backyard or 3000 miles away. Both are significant if we attach significance to them. Some of the best books I’ve read involve small places and the everyday life that occurs there. The magic happens in small moments of appreciation and often in small towns or small environments. The magic is in everyday, I think, if we’re open to it. So how do you open to it when time or circumstance don’t allow for travel? I read. I water my flowers and try to absorb their beauty because I dread the long and very cold winter that blankets life here for five months of the year. And I dream of mountains and the Highlands and the magical places in Britain and I plan the next trip. After each trip I’m so happy to be home.
So, my fellow travelers, help a girl out. What do you do when you can’t get away. Does reading and dreaming do it for you? What are your favorite reads of the summer? How do you escape?