I did something very unusual for me yesterday. I drove a total of six hours to spend eight hours with a friend.
The original plan was to have the whole weekend off, to mosey down to the South Carolina coast, and to enjoy a full two days of sun, salt water, and the wonderful smell of the marsh grass and the river. As often happens, life got in the way. The boss changes the schedule, the weekend off turns into three nights of working in a row, and the only thing left is Sunday. Deep breath. Regroup.
What to do? Do you stay home and clean the apartment and do laundry? Do you shop for groceries? Do you just sleep late and then spend whatever is left of the day reading or lounging on the porch in the sun at home? All of those would be the default for me, as they are relatively frictionless, painless no-brainers. I would have been none the worse for wear, I would have been rested enough to face the work week starting today, and my laundry might even have been done.
I tend to over think things. I tend to weigh too many options. I tend to plan too much. I know, I know. I’m working on it. The problem with over thinking and over planning is that spontaneous experiences, good ones, tend to pass you by while you’re obsessing.
Sometimes it’s better just to get in the car and drive.
I joked with my friend yesterday that if I had done my usual thinking about whether or not to use Sunday for the short visit, it would have been six PM and the day would have effectively been over.
I didn’t. It wasn’t. I drove the three hours to the coast. The salt air was just as I’d left it last time. The pungent smell of the marsh greeted me as I crossed the bridges into the Lowcountry. The little town was just as inviting and quiet and full of other happiness seekers as it always is in August. The river still rolled by, the jet skis whined and yachts glided by silently and regally.
I sat on a wonderfully inviting back porch and watched egrets and herons swoop past. I peered through narrowed eyes, looking for the resident gator, but never found him. I strolled along the riverfront, soaking up the sun. We sat in a lovely back yard, green and lush, just off the Beaufort River, talking about everything and nothing. We watched the tide go out, leaving the pleasure craft purposefully stranded on a mid-stream sand bar, where their occupants would while the afternoon away with beer and music, waiting for the backwash of the sea that would liberate them and send them floating back to boat ramps and home.
We ate salad at one of my favorite places in town, catching the restaurant at that lovely time between Sunday brunch and evening dinner. Then, of course, the swings by the river called, to glide back and forth, listening to the pleasant squeak of pairs of groaning chains. Watching couples and singles pushing strollers, meeting a wonderful puppy named Ollie, and seeing the homeless man with the black clothes, wearing a bright red tie because it was Sunday.
Sometimes, my friends, I think too much.
I’ll bet you do too.
Sometimes, we just need to hop in the car, drive, get there, and be in the moment.
Sometimes, we need to know that the six hours to get there and back are certainly a small price to pay for the eight sun-splashed, porch-sitting, heron-watching, salad-eating, swing-squeaking hours that result.
Next time, when you want to over think, don’t.
Over experience for a change.
The picture above is the view from my backyard conversation place yesterday, just beside the Beaufort River, just around the bend from the sleepy town of Beaufort, SC.