Michigan

7/19/16

Why I Love The Questions

There was very little question that I’d fall in love with Michigan. Because Michigan–although adjacent to my home state of Wisconsin–was difficult to get to, I hadn’t had the opportunity to visit. Instead I’d been lured into Michigan landscapes by following the selectivepotential.com blog for years, wistfully leaning in to my computer screen as I scrolled through road trips. And she wore coordinating outfits! Could I ever be in such beautiful places? Could I stand in front of a lighthouse in a perfectly nautical dress as the waves crashed behind? It was the same sort of dreamy travel fantasy I had before visiting the jungles of Bali or the marble temples of India and yet it was Michigan.

I awoke in Holland, Michigan with the intention of another dune run. My friend Rachel and I had picked another state park with a lighthouse but, just as in Indiana, selecting the best location to run a mix of dunes and beach was tough. Rachel and I first drove to Tunnel Park which offered a unique photo opportunity in that I could emerge from the tunnel right onto the beach. But I didn’t want to run on just sand again. So we drove to the nearby Holland State Park. As we pulled into the parking lot I knew that it was the right place to run, no questions asked. The red lighthouse at the end of a long, skinny pier beckoned. Miles of beach stretched north. Best of all, several metal boardwalks reached from the park to the shoreline providing me with route options between the beach and sidewalks.

I queued up my Michigan playlist. First I ran out to the lighthouse but the pier was so narrow and filled with fisherman that I didn’t have enough room to run all the way to the end. Then, I ran through sidewalks in the park and looped back to the lighthouse. Then along the sandy beach. At the end of the beach I took a sharp right and pounded across the boardwalk to the beginning of grassy dunes. At the dunes, amazingly, the metal boardwalk turned into a curving wooden boardwalk. I was just over a mile in. If I could run the boardwalk for a mile and a half, I would have only a half mile to finish close to the lighthouse. The wooden boardwalk was just the happy surprise I was hoping for. I couldn’t believe my good luck in musical timing: Rogue Wave’s “Lake Michigan,” which I’d amazingly heard live just a week before, started to play. Hearing that song at that moment celebrated a concert, date, friends and running location. It was a serendipitous intersection of life and music. When “Lake Michigan” was followed by Stevie Wonder’s “For Once in My Life,” it was as if years of questions, doubts and waiting were affirmed in two minutes and fifty seconds of complete soul satisfaction. The boardwalk thundered below. I flew past families walking to the beach. For once in my life my questions were answered.

I was so glad to not be wondering anymore. And maybe I should have been wondering more than I was. But I didn’t wonder if there was a better job for me because I was happy. At work time flew by writing about food just as it flies by when running, or writing about running. I didn’t wonder, or at least only wondered to a reasonable degree, about my new relationship. Instead of dreamily wandering around town listening to sad indie songs, I was simply spending time with someone I liked. My day to day questions weren’t huge gaps only to be filled in with a stream of informational interviews and first dates (which are actually remarkably similar). The questions were instead in the moment, such as that moment of running. “How long will this boardwalk go?” “What would it be like to live in this house with a pink trimmed porch?” “What do these homeowners do for the 4th of July?” “What could be better than this run?”

Why do I love the questions? Because I love the answers.

Questions are important. The big ones are important because they’ve helped get me to places where I only have to ask the little ones. And yet it’s just as important to ask the little questions. In fact, it seems the more little questions I offer, the fewer big questions I have to ask:

For example,

Instead of, “What is the perfect job for me?”: “What tasks do I most like doing at my job? Let’s find a way to do more of those things.”

Instead of, “Who will I spend the rest of my life with?”: “What people in my life annoy me the least? Let’s find someone with those qualities.”

And instead of, “What am I doing with my life?”: “What state will I run in next? Let’s plan.”

See you next month in Wyoming.

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