Some friends are spending a couple of weeks in Michigan on a house-sitting assignment. They are taking advantage of their time their to visit Saugatuck, Traverse City, and a flock of other cities and towns on and around Lake Michigan. I’ve been to Saugatuck, Holland, South Haven, and a sprinkling of towns on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, but not to Traverse City. Traverse City sits at the lowest end of Grand Traverse Bay, a large body of water that is, I suppose, part of Lake Michigan but protected from some of the larger lake’s winter fierceness.
A Facebook friend I’ve never met in person lives there. From her posts, as well as other bits and pieces of information I’ve learned about Traverse City, I think I’d like to summer there. From what I’ve seen of Michigan (which is a fair amount, in that we wandered the state a good bit while we lived in Chicago for a few years), there’s a lot to like. Ann Arbor, though not on the water, is another place I think I might appreciate. As a college town, there’s a lot to see and do. And it has, I think, a progressive (politically) environment. Years ago, during a grand two-week tour around the lakes, when we visited Mackinac Island, I fell in love with upper Michigan. Simply by driving through virgin forests, I was convinced I would like to buy land there. My wife was not so easily swayed, so we didn’t. But I still think it would be nice to have a place “up north” to go to escape the suffocating heat of Arkansas or Texas or Mississippi or Tennessee or …
One of the attractions of places far removed from where I am is the distinct difference in culture. It’s not so much that I don’t like this culture or that one, but that I really enjoy experiencing different ones with different perspectives on the world in which we live.
As I wait for the appointed hour to leave for church this morning, I think “I don’t want to go to church—I want to go to Michigan or Ohio or Pennsylvania.” There was a time when I could act on a whim like that. Old age and doctor appointments and church commitments and the constraints of wanting and needing to satisfy one’s marriage partner makes spur of the moment escapes virtually impossible. The constraint used to be work: my clients and their requirements. Now, the constraints are the simple realities and complexities of life. Some days, I would like to be utterly free of commitments and obligations. I’d like to be able to just act on whims without regard to anything or anyone else. That’s selfish, I know, but the freedom to act, without external constraints, is incredibly appealing. It’s probably not the romantic experience I imagine, though. With freedom comes loneliness and isolation and the realization that constraints encircle us. We’re wrapped in invisible cables that preclude real freedom, no matter that we might think we’re free.
I’m just daydreaming with my fingers here. Happiness is elusive and, perhaps, impossible. Or, it may be achievable but with a definition rooted in reality instead of fantasy. Enough of this. I’m off to church to hear ruminations about things that make me think.