In the last month, I’ve logged over 11,000 miles and touched down in 11 different cities from coast to coast. It’s been hectic but exciting. I’m not sure whether it was travel fatigue, old age, or a combination of the two, but I’m pretty sure I discovered a new rendering of déjà vu. The dictionary defines déjà vu as “The illusion of having already experienced something actually being experienced for the first time.” After reading that definition, I knew what I was experiencing was something just a bit different. Since it had a great deal to do with things I’ve seen during this nationwide tour, I’ll call it “déjà view.”
Let me begin with a great awakening this morning. I woke up to the pounding surf on the pure white sands of Panama City. As I looked out of my large, wall-sized window, I could see nothing but the vast ocean waters with several large ships moving across the horizon in the distance. The brilliant sunrise reflected off the beach with blinding intensity. Above the sounds of circling seagulls, I heard the radio DJ announce that afternoon temps would be reaching close to 94 degrees. The refreshing ocean breeze made that seem almost bearable. Just before hitting the sack last night, I stood on my balcony, 20 stories above the pool area, watching vacationers swimming in the Olympic-size pool, relaxing in the whirlpool, and dancing to island music in the soft flickering flames of dozens of Tiki torches situated among the many shadowy palm trees. I had to wonder if the people who lived in this area as permanent residents truly appreciated the privilege of living among these wondrous gifts.
Five days earlier, I flew into Albuquerque, New Mexico, rented a Sebring convertible and headed across the vast desert, winding among a wide variety of cacti and boulders of every size. I’ve seen a small cactus on a living room end table but nothing like the towering varieties found here in the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains. Situated at 7,000 feet above sea level, the air is rarefied, much thinner than I was used to but still very invigorating. After a pleasant one-hour drive at desert speeds, I arrived in Santa Fe, founded in the early 1600s, making it the second oldest city as well as the highest and oldest capital in the U.S. With a population of 70,000 primarily Hispanic, Anglo and Native American people, Santa Fe is a world-class tourist destination, drawing more than 1 million visitors each year to enjoy its unique offerings of art, culture and ancient traditions. It also ranks as the country’s third largest art market with nearly 300 galleries and dealers. I almost felt as though I was stepping back into history upon my arrival. If you’re hungry, you can easily find basic New Mexican food, creative Southwestern cuisine, or authentic Italian, French, Asian and other world cuisines. In fact, the city offers more than 200 choices. Coming into the city, I saw many hikers and bikers and soon learned this area was very well known for river rafting, horseback riding, and hot air ballooning. It’s also the home of America’s third largest art market, the Santa Fe Opera, fine dining, hundreds of quaint shops and, believe it or not, world-class ski resorts. Snow in the desert! Enter “déjà view.” I had to wonder if the people who lived in this area as permanent residents truly appreciated the privilege of living among these wondrous gifts.
A week earlier, I was once again on the shore of the ocean on picturesque Okaloosa Island enjoying everything you might expect … warm breezes, temps nearing the high 90s, very low humidity, island music, palm trees, sea gulls everywhere, breath-taking boats and nary a bad view from any room in my resort hotel. The people were friendly, the beautiful beaches beckoning, and the time far too short. Once again, enter “déjà view.” I had to wonder if the people who lived in this area as permanent residents truly appreciated the privilege of living among these wondrous gifts.
A few days prior to Okaloosa Island, I spent an entire week on another island — this one seemed as though it were a world away. New York City … no beaches, no breeze, and no island music. The only boats were ocean liners leaving daily for points unknown to local residents. However, what it lacked in resort environment, it certainly made up in other ways. From my skyscraper suite, I could view the entire city, which, by the way, truly never sleeps. A glance at the streets below reveals thousands of people scurrying in every direction at speeds faster than the local automotive traffic. Looks like an ant hill in turmoil! There is Central Park in one direction and Lady Liberty protecting the harbor in the other direction. It’s almost impossible to pull yourself away from your window view of the city after dark. A dazzling array of blinking lights and signs in every direction lights up the city as though it were the middle of the day. The pace is overwhelming, entertainment abounds, food choices are unlimited, business is brisk, opportunities are unlimited … in short, life is stimulating. You know what’s next. “Déjà view.” I had to wonder if the people who lived in this area as permanent residents truly appreciated the privilege of living among these wondrous gifts.
Flying home from Panama City, I experienced several flashbacks to my recent hectic schedule, and they all led me to an obvious revelation. Everyone calling all of the above scenarios “home” probably take their local attributes for granted. It suddenly dawned on me that many of them would truly enjoy visiting my part of the world as well. Within a short drive in any direction, you can find any one of the beautiful Great Lakes, entertainment, scenic vacation getaways, great food, professional sports, educational opportunities, a variety of river activities, and many of the things I’ve so enjoyed in my travels elsewhere. I guess I just never take the time to appreciate what I have in my own backyard. Kind of reminds me of the moral of the Wizard of Oz. We must understand that we already have the makings of contentment and great joy. We just don’t always recognize it. Maybe it’s time I took a closer look at what I have here at home — if I can ever find the time to do that. Maybe I should take a closer “déjà view!”