This past weekend I went to a lake near our new hometown. I’m not used to such treasures being so close. I grew up in Southern California. We had different treasures of our own there. It is a land of plenty and yet somehow it was missing something I never knew I needed. This made me think, while I was floating on the lake, can you get yourself all wrong? Can you discover that something has been missing in your life without ever knowing it was missing in the first place?
I was spoiled as a kid. I’d like to think I didn’t act spoiled. I went to Disneyland frequently as a child. I had an annual pass to Disneyland nearly constantly from thirteen until I was thirty. I got to spend time in beach houses for a few summers, attend professional sporting events of all kinds, go to concerts, and went shopping more than I even enjoyed. I truly love where I grew up. It made for a fun-filled upbringing.
As I grew into adulthood, I learned that my personal favorites of Southern California were the beach, Disneyland, and attending LA Kings hockey games. Then, after having kids, I realized that the beach started to become a hassle to get to and parking rates were ever-increasing; Disneyland’s ticket prices were sky-rocketing faster than I could keep up; and hockey games in LA required hours of baby-sitting and loads of money for tickets, food, gas and parking. Crowds and costs started to make those things I loved less special and, honestly, less attainable.
Then this past weekend, I think it finally hit me that I had it all wrong all those years. I will not deny that the Pacific Coast is breath-taking, Disneyland is magical, and an LA Kings hockey game is thrilling. But, since I’ve moved from the hustle and bustle, I’ve seen scenery so gorgeous and virtually untouched that it brought me nearly to tears, found that walking through forests and along waterfalls is magical, and learned that floating a river is heavenly.
I grew up believing these simple truths about myself – I am a Disney girl, I don’t like the great outdoors, I’m not athletic, I don’t camp, and I hate bugs. I got myself all wrong, well, except for the latter. I truly hate bugs. While I haven’t let loose quite yet and gone camping, I foresee it happening sooner than I ever even desired in Southern California. I’ve been out exploring the great outdoors more in the past seven months than my thirty-one years prior combined.
I’m finding a piece of me here that I had hoped I would find but didn’t expect to find out on the lake last Saturday. I anticipated a slower paced life would do me good and it has. However, I never imagined that feeling smaller in this great big universe would make me feel fuller inside. Is this what it feels like to start growing beyond yourself?
I have a dear friend who I was discussing religion with some years ago. At the time, she described herself as Agnostic, a person who believes the existence of a deity is unknowable. When discussing Christianity with her, she replied, “I’m just not sure I can believe it after I’ve spent so many years not believing it.” She didn’t like the idea of the possibility of having spent all those years “wrong.”
I remember feeling pretty sad at the time about her remark. But there are many of us that are making similar choices daily in regards to other matters, perhaps less important than religion. I’ve spent years believing that Southern California was the best place to be. You have everything you can imagine at your fingertips. What more can you want? But, what I didn’t realize was that I needed less not more. Less lines, less prices, less taxes, less traffic, and less materialism.
I truly don’t intend for this post to be anti-Southern California. I love where I grew up and look forward to many visits to loved ones, beaches, and Disneyland. I am merely using this an example.
On this day when America celebrates its independence and our individual freedoms, I encourage those reading to practice their freedoms. We have the freedom to change our minds and, perhaps, change our path. Are you trying to fit yourself into a mold that you once fit or were put in to at a young age? Are you afraid to admit you’ve been wrong all these years?
For those out there that have been good about experiencing the many treasures of this world, thanks for setting the example for the rest of us learning to spread our wings.
I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.