When I left my job covering Takoma Park earlier this year, it was a difficult decision in large part because I was unsure of what life would be like without it. When I left, I told myself I would continue to attend the city’s festivals and other events as a spectator and not the reporter who had to write about whatever was going on.
But here we are, five months later, and I’ve only set foot in that town twice since (once to get Gaia’s favorite doggie treats and the other time to avoid a traffic accident). The Folk Festival came and went, as did the Street Festival and a few other things. But truth is, when I didn’t have to be there for those events, I inevitably would up with something else to do on those days.
At the same time, I made an effort to keep in touch with some people, including a few in city government and in other parts of Takoma Park life, and with one exception, those efforts were ignored. So maybe I constructed something in my mind – or rather, I was “attached” to some perceived value that I felt Takoma Park placed in me. Truth is, I was probably so wrapped up in the fact that I was leaving that I couldn’t see myself doing anything else except finally going to the Street Festival without that journalist’s notebook in my back pocket.
This is on my mind because I was able to reconnect with an old friend this past week. Melody and I haven’t seen each other in about 12 years, and an unusual set of circumstances brought her to Baltimore. So I jumped at the chance to go see her, certain that the two of us would pick up right where we left off back in Greenville, S.C. Indeed, it was like the two of us had just seen each other a few days before. But I also realized that there was so much we did together – times when the two of us would laugh our asses off, or when we had to deal with serious issues in each other’s lives – that I had forgotten about.
When I left, I told my friend that I would come see her in North Carolina, in much the same way I said I would stick around Takoma Park. Or like I said I would go back to Cambodia the next year, or like I told my friends Erin, Ellyn and Corinne that I could come out West to see them. So what does all this mean?
Probably that I need to slow down and really live in the moment, and take in everything that happens to me as it occurs, and really relish the time that I have with my friends and family. Each moment I’m alive is a precious thing, and instead of thinking ahead to the next moment, I need to be firmly anchored in the here and now.
Whether I get down to North Carolina or Arizona or California or Cambodia depends on a billion different things, many of which I can’t possibly control. But when I’m with those special people or in those magnificent places, that’s where I need to be. Feet on the ground, mind in the moment. Not planning a return trip or another time to eat dinner together.
Otherwise, think about how much of life I’m missing!