Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Quest by Quotation

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. Henry David Thoreau

Often we don't get the full picture of our daily lives unless we step away from the routine. How have you stepped away this summer? What perspective have you gained? What do you count as star-dust or a bit of a rainbow?

Beyond the Rainbow

Marty and I were married on one of the hottest days DC had seen, 99 or a 100 degrees depending on who you ask, 100% humidity. The record wasn't broken until this year, the same time we decided to celebrate our anniversary by going to Charleston, SC for a few days. We had been to Charleston before, together and separately, and so expected to leisurely stroll the streets without feeling like we had to scurry around and see all the highlights. Rising early each morning to beat the heat, we wandered the streets and snuck through alleyways, taking pictures of gardens behind walls, lush window boxes, and colorful architecture. We stopped in art galleries to cool off, be inspired and, unexpectedly, discovered dappled dachshunds, coton de tulears (a small breed from Madagascar) and teddy bear yorkies. Who knew we would get warm fuzzie bundles of fur with our art? A little surprise, like a rainbow on a stormy afternoon. It is easier to see the surprises of life when you are on vacation just as it is easier to ponder your life if you aren't plodding through the daily routine.

I believe we look at Thoreau's bit of rainbow in our hands, and are blind to what our daily lives really amount to in the scheme of things. If we are blessed, we see the star-dust and rows of color. But often we just see dust and the rain. Conversely, sometimes we need to see the rain and the dust but fool ourselves into believing things are beautiful and hunky dory! In either case, that is where stepping away and examining our lives is so fruitful.

Charleston was what a mini-vacation was supposed to be: a time away to "regroup" as Marty said and see what "the daily harvest" truly is, as Thoreau implies. It also was a metaphor as we looked at the "Rainbow Row" of houses that Charleston is famous for. Somehow they just weren't as wonderful as we remembered, given that we had also seen the Painted Ladies of San Francisco. The Row was far better in our mind than in real life.

Our perspective had changed based on new travel experiences and time. We weren't dissatisfied with Rainbow Row, but it no longer was our most favorite landmark. Kind of how our satisfaction with our daily lives changes, given time and experience. For me, this trip reminded me that a great $100 meal can be made at home for less than ten...if I would take the time to cook! A $10,000 painting is wonderful but so is a picture taken by one's talented husband and put on display. Days of vacationing in a city whose historic district reminds us of Europe are wonderful but the routine of daily life has its own rewards upon returning home. Yet, the vacation time away and distance gave me the space to think about getting back in the working world and what that would entail.

Glad for the time away to ponder. Glad to be back to move forward. Glad for the daily routine and for the changes needing to be made in it so the stardust reveals the stars and the bit of rainbow becomes the full arch.