My wife, Nancy and I had a wonderful time exploring one of our favorite retreats this week. We could only squeeze a couple days out of our schedule to walk on the beach, rekindle friendships and feel at home in the Vacationland that we have visited for the past ten years or so. We began to visit the area on our honeymoon and since then, we have returned as often as possible, expanding our knowledge of the culture, geography, climate and history. We have had to rely on instinct to get the most out of our experiences there. The flashy tourist brochures rarely cover the most special character of the places we visit. An hour spent talking with someone who grew up around your favorite destination is worth more than a ream of glossy paper printed with bright colors, smiling faces and maps that ignore everything but the destination.
We have held on to the experiences that we have had there as tightly as the loved ones we share our most meaningful experiences with. The memories made in our favorite spots will stay with us forever and require very little effort to cultivate or inspire. Being out in the weather, enjoying what nature offers and living in the moment has rewards far beyond what can be expressed in words. Knowing that we will eventually settle in with the friends we have made there keeps us coming back, even though we have to let it go each time we return to our home here in Green Bay. What we are able to hold on to, and what for me is most dear, is the feeling of being at home and amongst friends that makes the travel time worth the hassle.
Sometimes we miss treasured events but we offset the scheduling conflicts with making our own fun or inviting new experiences in to fill the gaps left by the things we have missed along the way. Fortunately for us, we have learned the important lessons that often come with age. All the planning and expectations in the world cannot change what is. Getting over our ideas about what could be or what might be in favor of enjoying the moment has become one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. On virtually every trip we see something unexpected or we get a richer experience because of some spontaneous glitch that creeps into our plans, or an unexpected wrong turn or detour.
I have a little regret that the term “right livelihood” never really caught on. Perhaps the words are not as important as holding on to their meaning. I certainly don’t want to use the concept in so crass a way as to be trite or parochial. I truly mean it in the broadest sense. When we are in touch with our true self, operating from an optimal position, according to our highest moral, ethical and spiritual place, it seems that everything we touch turns golden. Don’t mistake that for turning to gold. Gold-en. Unlike King Midas, whose touch would transform all things to gold and was a result of his greed and worldly attachments, living in the zone in which our deepest and most aware self is unleashed on the world changes all that we touch to spiritual gold.
Friends we have made, people we have met and experiences that we have shared with both one another and complete strangers have enriched us beyond belief. The more tightly we held to our expectations, the more isolated and estranged from the world we became. The more we leave things to themselves, the more rich our experiences have become. Like the song says, “To every time there is a season.” Ours is to find a way to realize the truest nature within ourselves, to reflect that to the world and to then sit back and enjoy the show. Life cannot hold itself back from those who would experience it without reservation.