Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Skyward Glance

Like many people, I go through cycles in my life where at one extreme, I'm content and engaged in my daily life; and at the other extreme, I've had enough and can't stop fantasizing about an escape. I ebb and flow between the two, swayed by life events like the tide is influenced by the moon. Currently, I'm pegged pretty much at the edge of the "escape" side of the scale.

Daily life is quite taken with the logistics of my wedding a month from now, but that prospect is a welcome one; I'm excited to marry my sweetheart, and the event itself will satisfy my desire for escape (we're marrying in California, and honeymooning in St. Lucia). It's the daily work grind and my environment that have me stir crazy. Together, they both make me feel like a rat trapped in a corner, frantically and vainly scratching the walls to get away.

Lately, my view every day has been concrete, my gaze barely rising above the sidewalk on my way to and from work. Today, I happened to glance skyward, and the pinkish glow of dusk on the few clouds in the sky suddenly took me away. In a split-second, I found myself gazing up at past sunsets in other places, palpably feeling the relaxed contentment I have rarely felt outside of vacations.

And then, just as suddenly, reality crashed back in. I felt depressed contemplating that my life—many of our lives, the modern way of life—limits us to feeling this way only a few weeks per year (however much vacation time you get). We in the rat race work 48, 49, 50 weeks a year to earn those few weeks when we can live our lives at our own pace, on our own terms, looking up at the sky rather than studying the lines in the sidewalk.

At times like this, it's seductive to pine for the life of the playboy or the vagabond. One clutches a silver spoon, one carries his life in a rucksack—but both live the life we all crave, following our dreams and answering only to oneself. Sure, the grass is always greener, a lesson that life has taught me. But at the end, when we look back one final time at the summation of our life, will we wish we didn't spend so many of our finest hours under fluorescent lights, at someone else's whim? With each passing day, I grow more afraid of such a prospect.



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