Last night, I went on a boat tour of the chain of lakes in Winter Park, Florida.
Nothing earth-shattering about a boat, true. I’ve been on plenty of boats. In fact, I love being on the water.
But I’d never been on a boat on these particular lakes, and with these particular women.
I only really knew two of them, and only one well, who happened to invite me on a whim. Some I recognized. Some I didn’t. I was tired and almost backed out of going. I didn’t feel like forcing myself to socialize with people I wasn’t comfortable with after already being drained from a long day of work. Small talk can be exhausting. But, I sucked it up and went.
Boy am I glad I did.
The lakes, lined with cypress and Spanish moss that had likely been there for much longer than each light-speckled mansion and pier-bound boat decorating the shore, were absolutely breathtaking. The Florida sun descending in the early-evening sky of a tepid December day cast a warm glow that reflected off the water. This rippled glass effect made for perfect picture-taking and set the tone immediately. The tone of, “Well damn, I think I just may have a good time tonight in spite of myself.” What’s more, the company turned out to be fantastic. Before we’d even left the dock, the ladies were busting out fireball and wine, passing around a platter of cheese and crackers without a care in the world.
We talked. We laughed. We imbibed. We listened to our captain, Wendell, fill us in on the history of the lakes and their homes, all while throwing out a cheesy pun or two. The boat cruised across five different lakes, and snaked through narrow, fern-lined canals, where canopies of low-hanging trees and bridges took turns blocking out the view of the setting sun above. The moon climbed into the sky. And still, we laughed.
As we were cruising through the last canal on our way back to the dock where we’d started, I took a moment to just…. Well, live in the moment. To be mindful of all of my senses. Of the slightly musty lake smell, the wind in my hair, the crisp air tickling my face, the gnarled branches of the shadowy trees surrounding us, the sounds of peacocks crying in the distance intermingled with the gentle lapping of waves against the boat. I realized I could have missed this by simply staying at home, and I wouldn’t have known what I was missing. But what I found, was inspiration.
I made new friends. I experienced something I hadn’t experienced before. The mindfulness of the moment inspired me to flesh out the setting of my latest novel more, a novel that happens to – spoiler alert – partially take place in Florida, and mostly take place on a boat.
It’s these moments where inspiration strikes us the hardest. Where new experiences shape us into a slightly more well-rounded individual than the one we were before. And it’s these experiences that we often shy away from, the ones where we have to stretch slightly outside our comfort zone. Whether it’s socializing with a new group, or trying something we may have been afraid to try. Yet every time I’ve let fear hold me back, I’ve had regrets. Every time I said, “Screw it, I’m going for it,” I ended up with an experience I’ll never forget. A page or two in my life story that I’ll still talk about years into the future.
Because that’s what life is, folks. A series of pages, inside a series of chapters, inside a book that could be a dry read or a page-turner, depending on how we choose to live it.
I choose to make mine a page-turner. I choose to continue to find my inspiration.
Now go out and find yours.
Happy Try It Tuesday!