Vacation Without Going Anywhere

In the past 36 hours, I’ve been to Mumbai, San Francisco, San Diego, Rhode Island and a little village in India.

Although I have a stack of books beside my bed, it took buying Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda at Costco on Friday to get me out of my routine and into the created world of an excellent writer and the vivid imagery of other lives.

There is nothing like a good book. I literally left my world for the past two days to immerse in a world wholly foreign to me – one of a different land and different culture, one of adoptive parents vs. biological parents, one of an adopted daughter wondering about her biological roots.

I felt the humidity of India and wrinkled my nose at the stench of the Mumbai slums. And I completely related to the journalistic intentions of the young character in the book. I remember that person. I was her, in a different way.

So much of life is looking ahead or looking behind. So much of what we yearn for is to be present, in the moment, fully focused and breathing in the now. So much of why we escape and what we search for as we grow older is that sense of being present.

And yet the journey of this book was in a way, to be present in my home and warmed by a good story, and also the reminiscences of what my life was like earlier or what it will be like in months or years to come.

Part of me wants to adopt children – and yes, I have four of my own already. But there is a yearning in me to give more love, give more security and protection and guidance to young souls in need of it.

Part of me misses the excitement of the newsroom, the passion of journalism, of finding a story and listening well and learning the lessons hidden in the words.

It’s the human condition to think some other situation is better. Don’t get me wrong – I am not lamenting my life one bit. This is a good life. I am happy with it. But the journeying to what-if and some-day is fun, fascinating, exciting.

Yesterday, we hiked through wooded trails and my eldest immersed in the world of play, pretending he was military on reconnaissance. He cycled through all of the 20th century conflicts, ducking into the fallen wet leaves and the dewy grass, having so much fun.


And then we journeyed to the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham, a majestic place full of travels and journeys and dreams in the form of books. I love that my kids get excited to step into a library, that the limit of 8 books per person is disappointing to them.

The world of learning and exploration is never big enough. There’s always room for more.

And there’s always richness in the meanings buried deep within.

I don’t care what technology brings us – I will always choose good old-fashioned storytelling over anything new. There is heart and soul in the way details heighten the suspense, the way the story unfolds and illuminates the lessons lying in wait for consumption by the receiver.

Some things are wonderful about advancement. But there is a timeless beauty in sitting still and letting the story unfold.

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