When we returned from our trip, Anna asked,
“Dad, do you still like Michiana?”
I replied – nimble of tongue,d as I am –
“The answer is in a word contained in your question.”
Okay, opaquely “nimble of tongue.” But it was dazzling wise at that moment. Capsulizing our most recent Michiana experience, as a fleeing Will Kane in High Noon saying he has to go back, explained,
“That’s the whole thing.”
Michiana Indiana was incredibly still.
This is not always the case in Michiana. Sometimes there are thunderous downpours, “range-of-weather”-starved Angelos perched on our screened-in porch, watching the crackling “Sky Show” overhead. Sometimes, we actually applaud.
This time, however…
You know how still it was?
It’s like an oil painting.
And I was the only thing that was moving.
Michiana this year was blissful serenity, with trees.
The branches did not sway. The leaves did not rustle. The trunks…
TREE TRUNKS: “We never do things.”
You’re right, I got carried away. But that’s how perfectly still it was. If tree trunks could do things, they wouldn’t have.
Here’s the thing.
Here’s the real thing.
We do not know how we live till we go someplace else and live differently. Michiana reveals the contrasting clip of our regular “metronome.” Suddenly it’s,
“Wow! I go faster at home. ”
Even in laid-back L.A. (Let alone hurtling Manhattan, where it’s, “Wow! I am deliberately killing myself.”)
Believing I am sensibly “slowing down” through assiduous meditation, I am, in fact, still “racing along”, thinking I am soothingly serene when I am one level less frantic.
Michiana tells me I have a long to way go before “calm.”
FOREIGN OBSERVER: “You ought to try India.”
Some places are better. But you can’t get a burger.
You want tangible proof of the contrast in rhythms?
I read two books in six days in Michiana. I mean, long ones. Day after day, I sat, swiping the pages – I read on Kindle – and not moving for hours. At home, I read five minutes, and I am racing for television.
There is no television in our cabin. More importantly, there is no jangling “urgency.” (“Urgency” in quotes, because things could just feel urgent.)
Michiana is a slow place with a slow pace.
MIDWESTERN OBSERVER: “You ought to try Iowa.”
We are not competing, okay?
“Fine. And by the way, calm down.”
(TAKING A RESTORATIVE BREATH)
I even think differently in Michiana.
Being a writer, one of my nagging concerns involves how writers of yore scratching away with a feather were able to keep up with their own thoughts. (When I am unable to, typing.)
While away, it occurred to me that maybe I am pondering that backwards.
Maybe they are not writing too slowly.
Maybe I am thinking too fast.
(Note: This was a “Holiday Insight.” Perhaps, like a “great singer” enjoyed on a cruise ship, I will awake to its actual mediocrity upon further reflection.)
I would love to “beat with the ‘still’” of some placid surrounding. Unfortunately, my natural environment is not that.
So I come home, “steeped in the feeling.”
Until reality sets in.