Thursday, July 10, 2008

The View from the Lakehouse

We just returned from three days at Pamela’s lake house in Georgia. Pamela is my husband’s cousin, fondly referred to by my children as “Aunt Pammie.” We take a trip to Aunt Pammie’s every year, so we can catch up and she can see the kids. She recently became engaged to a man who owns a house on the lake, and she still has her home nearby, so whenever we visit she gives us the run of her place. It feels very much like our own private condo.

Aunt Pammie’s house is in one of the quietest neighborhoods imaginable. You’d be hard-pressed to find more than one soul to chat with, should you feel the need. Aunt Pammie also has the finest of fine things. Years of extremely hard work have put her in a position to afford the things she desires, and it is obvious that comfort is one of them. Aunt Pammie’s sheets have a thread count higher than I can count! Even her toilet paper has a richness uncommon to the masses. So here is how a typical day at Aunt Pammie’s goes:

My husband and I drag ourselves from her triple-cushion bed only when “just a little bit longer” becomes no longer acceptable to the kids. Then we put on the thirsty, white bathrobes she hangs on the back of the bathroom door for us, pick up a cup of gourmet coffee, and head out to Pammie’s spacious, Southern front-porch. After a leisurely discussion about how quiet the neighborhood is (among other things), we slowly drag ourselves in to shower and dress for a day on the lake. Then we drive a couple of miles over to the lake house and spend the day enjoying water sports. We alternately swim, bask in the sun, read, swim, lunch, boat, swim, jet-ski, socialize, dine, and socialize until late into the evening (or the kids fall asleep—whichever comes first), at which time we make our way back to her house and fall into the triple-cushion bed with zillion-count sheets with smiles on our faces. And with little variation, this is how the entire weekend goes.

So this weekend, as I was lounging near the lake, I began thinking about what this does to the writer’s perspective. Because every time I return from Aunt Pammie’s house, I feel extremely motivated and filled with ideas. The first thing you might be thinking is the same thing I thought—that it is a simple matter of rest and relaxation: A well-rested mind has creative energy. But upon careful examination, I think it’s more a matter of distance than rest. It is a shift of perspective that comes from being geographically far from your “real world.”

Time goes at a break-neck pace in our world. And even though Pammie goes about that same speed on any given day, her world is--quite simply--not ours. When we’re there, we’re on a mental vacation. The neighborhood seems quieter, the day seems calmer, the house seems cleaner, and the laundry is out of site. So are deadlines and commitments, by the way. And that shift of perspective, even for a few days, offers us the freedom to think and create and be artistic without any glaring reason why we should. That view is so lovely and peaceful--and welcome.

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