Life isn’t about safety. It isn’t about ruts and order and doing what’s comfortable. It’s about everything that exists beyond those lines. We grow as human beings when we move the lines, when we challenge ourselves, when we make ourselves embrace what’s possible instead of what’s comfortable.

So.

When was the last time YOU did something you thought you wouldn’t like? You spent time with someone you thought you wouldn’t agree with? You visited a place/read a book/watched a movie/experienced anything outside of your rutted comfort zone?

My answer?

Yesterday.

I facilitated a retreat for an architecture firm at the Middleton Inn. Middleton is an old plantation on the Ashley River outside Charleston, South Carolina. The retreat started Friday morning at 8am. Because I worked about 14 hours on Friday, I let the firm pay for me and MTM to spend the night at the inn.

A place that ALWAYS drives me mad.

Architects want to love the place (including MTM), because it is a modernist lodging where everything is “Oh Belvedere! Come here, Boy!”

And I can’t stand it. The rooms, anyway. The sleek modernist wood-and-concrete hasn’t been updated since 1987. The beds would embarrass a Motel 6, and the bathroom is Heresy. I complained all night long. About the smoke smell from the fireplace. About the non-cushy chairs. About the torture chamber of a bathtub. About the polar vortex that issued through a crack in the door.

About everything.

I woke up Saturday morning, determined to loathe the place to the end.

And I caught a glimpse of the river through a frame.

middleton inn

I remembered what it felt like to meander along the Ashley River in a shimmer of moonlight.

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I marveled at Spring, hovering in the breeze. (A gift to everyone who’s still stuck with Winter.)

middleton place

Even the cherubs rejoiced.

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I rubbed camellia petals, a-drip from waxy leaves.

middleton place

middleton place

I wondered at the ghosts that whispered through destruction, that glistened through ruin.

middleton place

I shot two alligators.

middleton place

No, really. I did.

middleton place

Okay. This time. ALLIGATORS, people.

middleton place

I marveled at beauty. Forgot everything I didn’t like. I was grateful for a gorgeous Spring day. In a mystical place. A flawed place. A place I’m determined to visit more often for a night or two, in spite of the discomforts, the inconveniences, the things I don’t like.

Because I want to live life outside the lines.

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