Something New

Recently I realized I have been traveling on paths that are so well-worn they have become deeply rutted. I read the same kind of books (mysteries), Ted’s walk is the same route day after day, and I’m reluctant to try anything new. Had the box of fear I vowed to stare down, set up artificial walls in my life? Was the chaos of the outside world shoring those walls up? I gave a great sigh as I wandered through the house. Suddenly it struck me! I was bored. Oh my gosh! I am never bored. There I was with a lot I could be doing but nothing I wanted to do.

Well, that ended this week and not because of anything I planned. Last week our daughter, Heather, took us to the Hollywood Pantages Theatre to see the play Hamilton. To be perfectly honest, I was not looking forward to this. Traveling down to traffic-bound, smoggy, and messy Los Angeles County is not one of my favorite things to do. I much prefer to go north to Santa Barbara County where the Pacific Ocean dances alongside the highway and everything seems neat and tidy. 

We had watched part of Hamilton on the Disney channel during a family party, and I came away wondering, What’s the big deal? Hands down, my favorite play is Phantom of the Opera. Well, move over Phantom! There is someone next to you in the number-one spot. 

I’ve pondered why I liked Hamilton so much, and I realized it is new, it is refreshing, and it is captivating. Who would have thought history could be so visceral and just plain entertaining?

The energy between actors and audience with the live performance seemed to take on symbolic significance. It was like my life had become a filmed, predictable experience, rather than flesh-and-blood living. I realized it was time to step outside the rutted path and get on some different paths. 

And here’s the thing: it didn’t have to be something new. For the first time in at least six months, we went hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains Park. Yes, it’s the place I can see from my house that I am always describing. There was always a reason for not visiting this next-door natural beauty spot—it was either too hot, cold, or windy, or I was too tired, or something was aching. Who knows why, but that resistance is gone. So, once again, I’m harping that nothing is as refreshing, restorative, or rejuvenating as being in nature. (A glass of champagne comes close, but you know what I mean.)

There are a few other entirely different activities I want to share—and you may laugh. One is the New York Times word game Wordle. While waiting for a table in a Hollywood restaurant that did not have the Health Department letter A displayed, Heather said to me, “Mom, there is a new word game, and you are going to love it.” So we did the Wordle word for the day together, and let me tell you, it exercises the little gray cells, and it might be addictive. The first thing that popped into my mind this morning was, What will be my first Wordle word?

Now that I realize I need to adjust how I travel through my days, I’m eager to have new experiences. So I’m reading some philosophy, a historical biography (Hamilton, of course), learning to make sheet-pan dinners, starting a new craft, drinking red wine, and planning on going tubing through unused sugar-cane irrigation ditches when we go to Hawai’i in March. 

I am not getting rid of all the old. You do know that I love champagne, and I will always have a mystery story by my bedside and a jigsaw puzzle and quilt in the works. And Teddy’s walk will follow the same trail (his choice, not mine). No, I prefer to think of this pathway as adding to—like going on a familiar road with new stops along the way. 

I have to go now. The open road beckons …

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