With due deference to The Getaway Guys, I want to pass on a recipe for renewal I discovered years ago. It is not a seasonal thing but now that summer is finally here, I feel the timing is right for those who are ready to listen and maybe give it a try.
Years ago when I was living a more structured life as a priest, teaching in a seminary back east, I would give myself a day off to get away from the twin tyrannies of bells and routine and just go. Since we had only five cars for a community of nineteen, just going was not simple. But when I could sign out a car for a day, after Mass and breakfast I would head out for a getaway in the hills of Connecticut or beyond.
I had a few rules for myself, however.
First, pick a direction, NOT a destination: north, east or west but never south toward New York City.
Next, avoid Interstates and major routes; secondary and back roads only.
Finally, use no maps, ask no directions, and most importantly, never take the same road twice.
You got it: just go, take off and see what happens!
Invariably what did happen was better than any day doing anything else. The back roads of New England are full of surprises: towns and hamlets with magical, historic names, bandstands on village greens, ice cream shops, antique emporiums, local museums, prep schools and tiny collages, miles of white fences and vistas of forever. I would find a sense of freedom at every turn. Left or right? I would let a whim decide. “Every road goes somewhere,” I would tell myself and make the turn.
I do not know why but it was always more fun just going alone than with someone else. Well, maybe more free. The few times I invited another to join me there was a push me-pull me kind of feeling in the car. I added another rule to try to solve that: “I’ll drive out, you drive back.” That helped but still diluted the feeling of freedom I was seeking.
The day was always too short. I would find a quaint place for lunch, then head home, always remembering the most important rule, using different roads – the really fun part!.By the time I got back to the seminary, usually late afternoon, the bells did not bother me any more, at least for a day or two and the routine, well, it was livable — but only until the call of just going got me to do just that again.