Living in a big city has never been one of my dreams nor has vacationing in one. And yet here we are midway in a two-month segment of my “radical sabbatical” in a relatively large city and loving it! What changed? Almost everything!
Having family here in San Diego makes a huge difference although that’s not the only thing. Living in a walkable neighborhood in this moderate climate provides daily opportunities for outdoor exercise. And then there’s internet access, social media and e-mail that we didn’t have ten years ago that keeps us in touch with the rest of the world. Returning to the church we’ve attended for the past 10 years and renewing friendships have all enriched our visit here.
When we first settled in I was distracted by the frequency and compelling sounds of sirens from 5 AM to midnight as I listened to see if they were stopping at “our building.” The entire first week both Jim and I were plagued by computer and internet problems and son Jim quickly was christened our onsite “computer engineer.” Concurrently, every appliance, light switch, timer and faucet in our comfortable “condo” was new to us and each had its own brand of beeper and belch, none of which could be silenced or identified soon enough.
I couldn’t help but recall how comfortable I had been before leaving home—aside from the usual winter weather. Our home of 25+ years fit our needs, our days followed a most predictable routine—actually, too predictable. What had at one time been comfortable and predictable had transitioned into a rut and it was high time I moved out of it to something more challenging and exciting. I have to give our daughter credit for urging us to cut the ties to home and come to San Diego for a couple of months. My husband deserves credit for researching and enrolling me in a generous sampling of art classes at a San Diego art school. Those two “nudges” were the basis for other meaningful experiences that followed. Suddenly February and March have been transformed into a time of new possibilities: California family time, new friends and developing new skills.
We’ve now taken Lyft, the remarkable new ride service, more times than I can count, to restaurants, classes, Balboa Park and wherever we choose to go. Meeting drivers with names like Omir, Hernando, Saul and Aswald from all over the U.S. and well beyond. Their “other jobs” range from working at Home Depot to being a medical researcher of marine life, a Navy seaman with time on his hands and a former cattle rancher from Nebraska who longs for the wide open spaces. Together they and 3.3 million others comprise the cultural microcosm of San Diego County.
My art classes have been one of the highlights of this trip, in great part due to the gifted instructor who came to the U.S from Russia as a 15-year-old refugee. She along with class members have reawakened my love of art. With that reawakening comes challenge, humility, enjoyment, learning and personal growth. This week Jim and I spent a most enjoyable afternoon at the San Diego Art Museum in Balboa Park. Ten days from now, we’re meeting friends from the Grand Rapids Art Museum in San Francisco for the opening of the Matisse Exhibit led by GRAM CEO, Dana Friis-Hansen and Curator Ron Platt.
I tell you these things not to impress you but rather to impress upon you the importance of getting out of your comfort zone and expanding your world. There comes a time when it’s high-time for all of us to learn new things, meet new people and do the things we’ve never taken time to do. For me, that time has come. What is it high-time for you to do? What if you made it an annual event? Talk with your spouse and family. Get creative as you brainstorm possibilities! Then block out time on your calendar now before other people’s events and life itself take over.