Tuesday, July 6, 2010

South Carolina and back again...on oceans and red dirt and stories

I randomly took a road trip this weekend and ended up in South Carolina. I enjoyed South Carolina much more than I thought I would - there was something about it that I found very appealing. If I ever decide to opt out of the rat race that is big-city livin' and take up some artsy, bohemian profession, I think I'll move there.

Here are my thoughts, for what they are worth:

1. Contrary to what I had previously believed, the Atlantic ocean is much warmer and more pleasant than the Pacific - making swimming plausible and actually enjoyable. This allows one the realization that there is something crazy delightful about ocean water.

2. The Southern folks on South Carolinian beaches are there for the experience and not to peacock around...they cannot be accused of vanity, which is a beautiful thing. Vanity, thy name is Californian.

3. The contrast of the rich green foliage and brick red dirt is splendid in a way that makes me want to live in a little white house in between.

4. People's stories are important and I heard a few of them: A biker on his fifth wife (who happened to have a tumor) was going to be cooking out for the 4th with his too-grown daughter and grandchildren. A displaced Southern housewife who hadn't had a vacation in years and dreamed of getting in the car and driving to who-knows-where. An seasoned jazz player and official South Carolinian ambassador of jazz who was helping to raise the baby grandson of his high school sweetheart - all after a full life of military traveling, teaching and music. They all had stories to tell and they told them.

In our busy lives in big cities, we minimize our stories in lieu of showcasing our status. Most of us urbanites would be mortified to expel our life story to a stranger upon introduction and are generally annoyed when others subject us to theirs. Instead, we'd rather ask and tell about jobs and titles and schools attended and vacations taken and neighborhoods lived in and all of the other things that really don't speak to who we are (only what we have or haven't accomplished).

So, what if we did the opposite? As the culmination of our experiences, our stories make us who we are - they are valid and significant simply because they are lived. Our stories are precious possessions that should be cherished and reflected on and shared and when we diminish our stories we are doing nothing short of diminishing the beautiful stuff about ourselves...and we can't have that.

So, what's your story?

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