My family was fortunate to take a road trip to the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains recently. This wasn’t our usual spring break trip, but wanted to do something as safely as possible. Between being able to drive, rent a stand alone house, and enjoy the outdoors, we figured it was the best choice for our family.
This week was the happiest I had seen my children and husband in a long time. Living in the upper midwest, the winter meant we were stuck inside often over the colder months. The winter weather also meant opportunities to socialize safely outside were limited. We were all feeling the malaise of a lonely and isolated period. As we drove into the green hills, my boys marveled at the sight of the mountains in the distance. The windows were rolled down, we breathed in the fresh spring air and expelled anxiety and stress.
As we spent time in the warmer weather, hiking in the midst of spectacular views, I could see the change in all of us after a long year. Electronics were forgotten when presented with the ability to go swimming, hiking or sitting around the firepit. My husband and I spent each night in the hot tub after putting the boys to sleep. Even after seventeen years of marriage and a full year together at home, during our trip we found new topics to discuss and new dreams to share.
A shift of perspective had occurred. We didn’t need things, we needed experiences. Over the past year we didn’t mourn the lack of new clothing, the newest gadget, a better car. We longed for a long dinner with our loved ones. We missed the companionship of a good friend. We missed gathering for sports, for movies, for concerts. We missed traveling. We missed exploring. We missed the excitement of planning and the anticipation of a journey. Our things helped us get by, helped to distract us from the things we longed to do, but could not fill the void left by the lack of connection for long. Our priorities have been recalibrated. No longer needing to stifel our discontent, we were able to fully experience the world and the people around us.
When we become stagnant in our lives we become stale and foul, rotting like the debris within the pool of water forgotten in the forest. Only by finding new purpose, exploring new avenues, filling ourselves up with experiences that nourish our soul can we once again begin to flow, clean and reinvigorated.