UPSIDE DOWN photo by Maureen Goss

Sometimes we need to step outside of the box of our routines to see our lives with a little more clarity. I had the opportunity to do just that as I accompanied my husband on a business trip to Georgia recently. Life is slower in the south. At least it was in St. Marys, a small town that is a short boat ride away from Cumberland Island, where wild horses roam the white sand beaches, dunes, and pristine forest. The locals seemed to have all the time in the world for conversation. They told me that John F. Kennedy Jr. got married on the north side of the island by candlelight in the first African Baptist chapel that was built there in 1893. I heard stories about these and other local features from people who smiled easily and moved slowly.

I am accustomed to a New York City pace: running quickly across the avenue when the warning light is flashing. If I can shave 30 seconds off to make the next subway, I won’t have to wait on the platform for a whole 3-7 minutes for the next one. During my stay in St. Marys, I wondered if I would be able to bring that laid-back not-in-a-hurry attitude back to NYC, where there are deadlines to meet, places to be, and so very much to do, which is what I love about New York.

Having done this city-country back-and-forth for much of my adult life, I can say the answer for me is no. We cannot bring back the ease that comes from being next to water that goes as far as the eye can see, or under a grove of trees that cleanses the air with fresh fragrance. Each time I return from the country, the calm lasts but a few hours before I am drawn once again into the creative current that electrifies city life.

There is a more important reason to get away: not just for New Yorkers, but for anyone who becomes hypnotized by their routines. We get blind to other options and attitudes when we are on that ‘treadmill.’ Sometimes we get so busy that our actions have no meaning. We go about our days with no connection to our real identity and our purpose in life. Our communities suffer, as do we. That is why we need to make room to jump out of our box, so we can see our lives from a larger perspective.
Getting away, even if just for a day, can do this. The longer you stay, the more room you’ll allow for thoughts and feelings to come up. They have no space to arise when life is too crowded.

Give it a try. You might feel a bit disoriented, especially if you never get away. This is a good thing. It could be a sign that you need to make some changes that allow you to find your ground no matter where you are. Make room for your true self to catch a little fresh air. You will go back refreshed, grateful, and possibly aware of some changes that need to be made. Think about it.

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