This will be a short post because I’m tired, sore, and emotionally all over the place.
My work took me to Charleston today (that’s Charleston, SC, home of Spoleto, Benne Wafers and the start of the Civil War). I love Charleston. It’s full of history and charm. Stories abound there. I drove over the Ashley and saw a marina full of boats and more boats scattered in the open water. I drove past marshes full of sawgrass (you can buy handmade grass baskets from the market, by the way. They’re beautiful.). I drove downtown on the narrow twisting streets designed more for horse and carriage than modern motorized vehicles, past homes that have been around for much longer than me or anyone I know. Each corner has a small corner grocery (literally, they were all on the corner) with two plate glass windows (one facing each street) and a single glass door. Each store fit as organically on those narrow streets as the houses that butted up against it. It’s a beautiful city.
I also drove through neighborhoods that looked just as ordinary, just as pedestrian as any neighborhood that you might find in any town or city anywhere you care to look. Not charming. Not historic. Just people; old and young and struggling and just as ordinary and extraordinary as any of us.
I learned two things (or re-learned or remembered. I feel like I’ve known this before and I’ll probably have to learn it again later.).
Places are made of people. Ordinary people doing ordinary things. If you’re yearning to be somewhere else, certain that the other place will be the source of all the things you’re missing, be aware that it will probably be filled with the same people and neighborhoods as where you are. Everywhere is someone’s home town to escape from. Lives are built from within people, not based on places.
I passed all of these really beautiful, meaning-filled places and I never took even one moment to stop and take a good look. I was on a schedule. “On to the next patient.” “Gotta keep up the pace.” “I’ll come back later on a day off.” I doubt I’ll go anytime soon on a day off. Even if I do go, it won’t be the same as it was today. I missed the moment. You can waste a life by missing moments. A life is made up of nothing but moments.