Archive | July, 2012

On Being Someplace Else

31 Jul


Most of the time we are where we’re supposed to be: at work, at school, on the baseball diamond, in our cars, at the grocery store,getting a pedicure, taking the car to be serviced, at the movies, out to dinner….But every once in a while we take ourselves somewhere else, -somewhere that has nothing to do with anything but that we wanted to go there.  It might be someplace close–like a sunny bench we sit on at the railroad station or a flat rock on the edge of a nearby stream–or it might be far away,-a day’s travel by plane, or hours and hours of driving. What these places have in common is this: We don’t belong there; we’re just visiting.

No one knows us here. We can shed our identities, have nothing to say, and we can imagine how much happier we might be if we could live right here, wherever it is. The air seems easier to breathe and the sky more unique. We can imagine that in this place we could be really happy.

One time, standing on the top of a hill on an island called Isles de la Madeleine in the gulf of the St. Lawrence River, I had such a moment of being entirely someplace else. It was windy, but warm and I stood beside a gigantic wooden crucifix looking down on the web of small houses and small roads below that made up the island’s tiny town. In the distance, I noticed a dog loping down a road toward a small boy with his arms outstretched and then another dog sniffing at something in the road in another direction. And yet another older dog, tail wagging, walking slowly down a side street. It suddenly dawned on me that not only was I in a Grandma Moses painting, but that there were no leash laws in this Grandma Moses island. Dogs just wandered free, like in the old days.  Suddenly I felt a rush of possibilities! Life would be easy here, no expectations, dogs run free, water on all sides,  the closest civilization a 6 hour ferry ride to Nova Scotia. And for the rest of the trip I lived the fantasy of the  perfection of that “someplace else”.

Whether we take ourselves to an island,or CinqueTerre, Italy or the middle of the New Mexico high desert to ride dirt bikes, being someplace else is worth the hassle it takes to get there when we end up feeling truly alive.