Sunday in the Park
April 17, 2009
I was asked recently, "When was the last time you traveled just for pleasure? A time you would consider a vacation? More than a weekend?" And I had to think. Hard.
I mean, I have traveled more this year than ever before in my life. Work. And work. And family. And family. And more work. And hell, I don’t know, when did I last just take a piece of time away? It has been a year, I finally determined. A year so filled with grief and sadness and new ideas and new technology and entertainment and new business associates and new ways of seeing and thinking. Much of it good. Extremely good, in fact. And much of it so very, very sad. So much due to the loss of old dear friends but also of long-held perceptions. Letting go not only hasn’t been easy, I realize now, it hasn’t completely happened.
But I know just what would help.
A road trip.
Gathering up music and books and cameras and notebooks and flip-flops and sunhats and a big fat jacket for the one day it could rain. Taking two-lane roads until the pavement ends and then being perfectly happy to drive on dirt roads after that for a while. Red dirt roads, with the windows and the sunroof open, so the car ends up with a thin layer of red dust everywhere inside and so do I. Finding places where I see no one for miles on end, save the animals that live on the land. After such a busy year with so much chatter and twitter and nonsense and recompense, what I need is vast amounts of, well, vastness. Quietude. Which makes me think of my well-educated friend who used to always say she reveled in her special loneliness time. Each time I would try to correct her and say, "you mean alone time." "No," she would correct me, "I mean, I like to feel lonely sometimes, it is different from being so needed." Like so many things in life, this took me much longer to understand, to internalize, to absorb. Actually, I just might be starting to make those connections about now.
For now, I’m thinking about going to some places that are familiar in direction and climate and landscape. Where I know less than three people I may or may not run into. A place where there are things blooming and popping in that luminescent green that won’t arrive in Park City for weeks. A place where colored lip gloss seems a bit frilly forget about makeup. A place where new shoes or jeans or a shirt with a collar is held suspect. A place where the cell reception is often nonexistent, ditto anything wireless or even cabled. A place where birds land and take off on rushes and bushes and rock croppings and even tree branches. Where horses throw back their heads in welcome and the spring runoff from ALL this snow makes waters crash over rocks. There is such music in those places if you are quiet enough, still enough, to hear. The scratches the lizard makes as he scurries over the flat rock. The twig that snaps from the rabbit in the woods. The birds who sing sweet spring songs. The cactus flowers as they unfold their brief bright colors in the desert.
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There are good places left still, in this very state, for finding quiet and space and uninterrupted time to remember and forget and remember and forget. Like the refrain from the "Cheers" sitcom song, except that "nobody knows your name." And it’s good to move quietly for a while. To try to blend with the landscape. To just think about all the things you keep meaning to find time to think about. About projects you want to start. Or stop. People you need, in or out of, your life. Ways to move furniture or belief systems. And while it would seem you could carve out an hour in the morning before you start your day (as so many life coach people like to suggest, along with editors) to do all those things that need doing and thought about and exercised and meditated upon, is not possible for all of us. We are not all hard wired to perform the same tasks the same way. And only now am I learning that one size does not, never did, fit all.
How I learn and think and recreate and relax is a pattern that has taken me years, actually a lifetime, to discover, and if I am honest enough with myself, I know the first step is going off by myself for a piece of time to shed the winter layers that have weighed me down. I don’t know when exactly I will pull out of the driveway but it will soon, maybe this very Sunday in the Park
Teri Orr is the director of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation that provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts and the Big Stars Bright Nights Summer Concert Series at Deer Valley. She is also a former editor of The Park Record.