YES, I Went to Florida!

Or, How a Total Stranger Changed My Life

It was the morning of April 21st and I was sitting in the room in Raleigh that I had rented through Airbnb. My new friend (Liz, from Israel) who I had not yet met in person, had just texted me that she knew someone with an extra General Admission ticket for the Sunrise, FL show on April 29th and it was mine if I wanted it.

My general plan had been to see Bruce in Nashville (4/17), Charlotte (4/19), Raleigh (4/24) and Atlanta (4/26), skip the two Florida shows  and spend a week in New Orleans exploring the city and getting caught up on work and blogging before seeing him at the New Orleans Jazz Fest (5/3) and Houston (5/6). That would have been six shows in all, which had seemed like a respectable and really enviable run when I was planning the trip from my little house in Austin.

But after seeing Bruce twice, I was feeling the juice, the soul, the fire.

I was ON fire!

I wanted more Bruce, more E Street Band, more opportunities to make it to the front of the stage. I felt a pull to dive in deep and let the adventure take me where it would.

When I got the text that there was a ticket to Sunrise if I wanted it—

I wanted it!

 

So, immediately, I wrote to my New Orleans Airbnb hosts, Greg and Betty. Would it be okay for me to change my reservation and only stay two days instead of a week? Greg wrote back almost immediately,

Far be it for us to stand between a loyal fan of Bruce’s and her sacred pilgrimage.

That was sweet. Awwww! OKAY. It’s a go! I’m going to Florida! I’m going to see 8 shows! Wooohoooooo….

And then…

BAM!!!

The volume cranked up on those damn inner naysayers and critics and practical people that live inside my head.

“What about work?”

“Your too old; your body can’t take that much driving.”

“You won’t get any work done if you go.”

“You’ll drive thousands of miles.”

That stopped my thoughts in their tracks. THOUSANDS OF MILES?

So, I googled it. Sure enough, Atlanta to Sunrise to Tampa to New Orleans – 1550 miles. 22 hours driving time.  In how long?

Saturday: Atlanta

Tuesday: Sunrise

Thursday: Tampa

Saturday: New Orleans.

Um, that would be 1550 miles of driving in ONE WEEK!

Not to mention the drive from Raleigh to Atlanta right before, or from New Orleans to Houston right after. And then, for the LOVE OF GOD, I was driving all the way to California after Houston.

That all seemed beyond possible. I was daunted. I admit it. I just gave up right then and there. Threw in the towel. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. The chains of shoulds and oughts wrapped around me and I was blindfolded and bound.

I looked up the drive from Atlanta to New Orleans: 470 miles (about 7 hours).

So much more reasonable. So much more sane.

[And, here I have to admit, I was also feeling guilty because I was changing my reservation. I’m not sure why this happens, but somehow I think that I’m responsible for, well, just about everyone and everything. Because I had made this reservation, now I had to keep it. Even though I was well within the time limit of their cancellation policy AND Greg had also been so supportive and flexible in his first email. But, still, I felt this tug somewhere in my chest or my abdomen…I was WRONG to change my reservation.]

So, I wrote back to Greg. “Never mind, I’m too old. It’s crazy. I can’t.”

Assuming that settled it, sanity had won out, I tried to turn my attention to my work. Before I could get anywhere in that endeavor, Greg wrote again.

Uma,

Good Try. We won’t accept the, . . . old boy of mine. . . ‘, schtick.

You sound like a active and energetic person. We get the sense that if you committed and commenced your drive to Florida, you’d find a way to make it a wonderful adventure – and be no worse for the wear. :-)”

It was as though he knew me, right? I mean, what the H- – -??!

I emailed him back.

Greg,

OH MY GOSH
are you kidding me?

Now, I feel like i really should do it!

If I did, it would probably mean that I actually don’t arrive until Saturday because I’d need two days to get from Tampa to New Orleans – and then I’d go right to the Festival after dropping my bags at your house. Is that still ok? Then it would only be Saturday to Monday!

[ Notice that I was making extra sure that he wasn’t going to hate me for my irresponsibility in changing the reservation. Despite the fact that he clearly was encouraging me to go.]

Okay, folks. So, here’s the kicker. Here’s the reason for this entire post. Here’s the Mystery at work in my life. Greg wrote me back:

Hi Uma,

Barring the earth being struck by a major asteroid or Elvis making an appearance, we’ll be here whether you arrive on the April 28th or on May 3rd.

So, what is really more important is your desire . . . and your dream. To that, the words of Thoreau and Whitman come to mind:

Thoreau in his work, “Walden Or Life in the Woods”:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,

and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,

to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Whitman – O Me! O Life! ‘ 
O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; 
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; 
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) 
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; 
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; 
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; 
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? 

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

 So, Uma – Do you want to suck out all the marrow of life, and drive life into a corner?

And ultimately, what will your verse be?

Just let us know

Greg & Betty

 

Can you imagine? What would YOU have done if this happened to YOU? Maybe you’d do what I did.

1. Burst into tears. Sobbing, chest-heaving tears.

2. Then start laughing at the same time.

3. Through your tears write Greg back…

 

Greg,

I don’t know you and yet clearly, you have been sent from my own soul to help me out.

You could not really know how meaningful it is, that you sent me Thoreau and Whitman, but…

I am actually crying right now.

I would like to arrive on Saturday May 3rd and stay til Monday May 5th.

thank you, more than I can say

~Uma

∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

And this, my friends, is the root of adventure.

This is the real Mystery at work.

This is the fire and the flame and the Way that calls you always Home, to your truest self. This is the offering and the offerer, all in one.

This is your sword, this is your shield
This is the power of love revealed
Carry it with you wherever you go
And give all the love that you have in your soul

-This is Your Sword, Bruce Springsteen

∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

Are you willing?

Will you throw your desires to the wind and see what blows back to you?

Will you listen to the Call of a New Life?

On April 21st, I said yes.

And today, I’m saying YES again.

 

2014-04-28 14.36.13

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