If all of a sudden you were not living in your current location, what would you miss? When someone from another part of the country visits, where do you take them? What represents "your place" to you? What in future years will you reminisce about? "Remember all the good times we had when we went to…."
Besides all the special people in your life, what is it about your town that is unique and interesting and what do you love about your life there?
Along with all the wonderful friends we have acquired, we have loved so much about living in Madison:
*The renowned Farmer's Market filling all four sides of Capitol Square.
* The miles and miles of conservancy areas where prairie is being restored, offering frequent glimpses of sand hill cranes. Even if you can't see them, you can hear their plaintive calls.
* Areas of fun shops and restaurants--Monroe Street, Willy Street, and State Street which extends from the capitol to the University of Wisconsin.
* Proximity to charming small towns, including Mt Horeb, Prairie du Sac for eagle watching and Spring Green. American Players Theatre in Spring Green with both its outdoor and now also an indoor stage never fails to offer excellent theatre and a memorable experience. Just bring your bug spray! Taliesen East, Frank Lloyd Wright's school and home, are located just outside Spring Green, too --always a good spot to take visiting friends, but frankly, our ongoing favorite Spring Green spot is Arcadia Books.
* The Arboretum where I volunteered in the book store, and Olbrich Gardens.
* UW's Union Terrace on Lake Mendota with its primary colored chairs. I spent hours there on warm summer days reading and writing.
* A wonderful orchestra and coming from Cleveland and it's world famous first class orchestra, that is saying a great deal.
* Holy Wisdom Monastery just 7 minutes away from us. A place for retreat and classes and worship.
* Door County only four hours away!
Well, the list could go on. We know we haven't discovered all there is to do here, and we have taken some, but not enough advantage of being so close to Chicago and Milwaukee. Still, we have been good tourists while living there, even surprising friends and colleagues who have lived there for years or even all their lives, but have never done some of what we have enjoyed.
Being a Tourist
There are good reasons for the tourist activity. When you first move some place and don't know many people or even how to get around, exploring fills your open time and makes you more comfortable in a new place. The first few years here we had lots of out-of town company, and it was fun to introduce our new home to them. Plus, when the grandkids spent time with us, we loved taking them to the Circus Museum in Baraboo or on a tour of Randall Park where the UW Badgers play and of course making a stop at Babcock Hall for homemade ice cream. We have been tour guides, planning field trips for ourselves and others.
All this has been fun, but there are greater lessons here--the opportunity to see with fresh eyes, to remain open, to deliberately learn something new and challenge yourself with change. You don't have to move to a different place in order to do this. In fact, when we are present to our own lives and to the lives around us, we are bound to see things in a new way. When we are willing to peek beyond the comfortable boundaries we have created for ourselves, who knows what can be discovered. Being a tourist in your own home may make you feel more content or you may decide it is time to move further afield, physically or intellectually. Or spiritually.
We have now returned to St Paul where we raised our children and much feels familiar and there is comfort and ease in that awareness, but I am eager to be a tourist here, too. I wonder what I will discover, what new paths there are to discover and who I will meet along the way. With each move I have made throughout my life, and there have been many, I have enlarged my view of the world and of myself as well. My intention is to keep expanding and growing. Even before all the boxes are unpacked!
What's waiting to be discovered and explored in your familiar territory -- and in your life? How present are you to what is in your own back yard? How willing are you to expand your comfort zone? Let me know what you learn.