Contrasts

There are some things that introverts are supposed to not like–crowds, smoke, loud noises. And for three days this week, I willingly choose to do all three.

I’ve been on vacation this week. What I needed–right now–more than going to an exotic locale or spending 12 hours in a plane was to just disconnect from the office, the 9-to-5, the hamster wheel. Even if that meant spending the week mostly to myself. Ah, a week spent to myself? What divine pleasure…

At some point, though, I wanted to get out of the house for a couple of days. So I choose a place two hours away that most introverts would avoid like the plague–Atlantic City. I stayed at a casino–a pretty nice one. It has the things we normally eschew–crowds of people (mostly older day-trippers); smoking (they are the only places in New Jersey where you can smoke inside); and noise (those machines together make a lot of noise). If any combination of those got to me, I just retired to my room.

41st floor view

But there were 12 hours in South Jersey that were vastly different, vastly contrasting, yet both were enlightening, fulfilling, and exactly what I needed…

There’s a dance club at the casino I stayed that’s open on Monday nights. Well, I’ll go about 11 and check it out–it’s a Monday, how crowded could it get? By midnight it was heaving with people, with the music coursing and pulsating through everyone. Time to leave, right? Hardly. Introverts are crack people-watchers, and staying on the edge of the dance floor was a great vantage point to see humanity check out from the rat race for a while and dance to life. The variety of people and dance moves was a joy to just watch, experience and feel. There was a stretch of time where I could feel the smile on my face from just being there. That was what I needed, I said to myself. Over and over again.

Dancing at mur.mur

The next morning dawned gray, with rumbles of thunder overhead. A crappy day to drive to Cape May. But I got in the car anyway, because I wanted to see the tip of the Garden State. Heading south on the parkway, the rain and fog eased up. I’d never been to Cape May before, but it looked familiar–weathered-shingle houses, boats bobbing in the harbor, a hint of salt in the air. I thought I was lost, but eventually I found the park, pulled in to the lot and stepped out of the car.

Cape May Lighthouse

And heard nothing. But nature. It was a huge contrast from 12 hours before, and the thumping beat of dance music. Now, just birds and the murmurs of a few bird-watchers. I climbed over the dunes, and there was the Atlantic, and the tip of New Jersey. Walking closer to the ocean, the waves got louder. I stood there for a while and took in the music of nature. There were a couple of boats in the water, and a few birds flying around. Peaceful.

Beach visitor

Now I’m in my living room. The week off has been restorative. Batteries recharged. There was a good lesson to be learned. Experiences come in any form. Your receptiveness to it depends on your openness. Your state of awakening, as it were.

Ocean view

How to cope with wavering thoughts? Versatile are flying clouds, Yet from the sky theyre not apart. Mighty are the oceans waves, Yet they are not separate from the sea. Heavy and thick are banks of fog, Yet from the air theyre not apart. Frantic runs the mind in voidness, Yet from the Void it never separates.

– Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa

 

(more photos here)

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