Isn't it funny what an influence rhythms have on our lives? The ebbs and flows of Nature's rhythms in the movements of the moon and the sea. The changes of the seasons. The rhythm of our daily routines, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning to the moment we shut them for the last time as we drift into sleep at the end of the day. We find comfort in them. We gain a sense of security in believing they won't vary much from day to day. And...usually...they don't.
How do we react to great change, to a total upheaval in our lives? From the known to the unknown? From having a pretty good idea of what faces you as you head out into your day to not knowing how to find your way home? To having to use a GPS to make it from your house to a grocery store, and from the grocery store to your house? From having all kinds of familiar landmarks to help you figure out what direction you're headed, to a land devoid of anything but enormous blue sky overhead?
I'm not sure.
I'm still in the process.
There are vast differences between Portland, Oregon, and southeast Michigan. There are different trees, different flowers, different insects. There are no Cascade Mountains to the east, no Coast Range to the west. There are gently rolling hills in some spots, but mostly flat land with trees and trees and more trees. Any sizable 'hill' we've spotted so far has been man made and is usually covering a landfill. Most of the houses in our area here outside of Detroit are made of brick. There are fire flies and cicadas. There are "Michigan 'U'-ies", and you can turn left on red lights as long as they're flashing and there's no danger of a collision. Young people call you "Ma'm" and treat you with respect. Clerks in stores greet you with a pleasant "Hello! How are you? What can I do for you today?" They even approach you and ask if they can help you in any way. You hear a lot of "Please" and "Thank You" and "You're welcome". Here in Michigan, if people are going to the 'beach' or the 'shore' it's going to be somewhere along one of the Great Lakes. Do you know...until I moved here I never realized Michigan is surrounded on three sides by water...at least the lower part is. And that it's shaped like a mitten? And if Michiganders are trying to tell an out-of-stater where some town is located in the state, they'll hold up their hand and 'show' you where it is. Because Michigan truly is shaped like a mittened hand. In Portland we had the east winds that blew with ferocity out of the Columbia River Gorge...frigid in the winter, blistering in the summer. Here in Michigan we have 'lake effect' winds and thunder storms that blow thru with amazing displays of lightning, sweeping rains, and claps of thunder that seem to go on forever and ever and ever.
And it is also amazing how quickly we go about making our new house a home. How quickly we feather our nest with familiar objects to take away the strangeness, the newness, the unfamiliarity. We go about forming new rhythms, new patterns. We find grocery stores and gas stations, new favorite restaurants. We begin taking a certain route to and from work and pretty soon it's our regular commute. We don't think about what exit to take. We don't stress about driving along unfamiliar freeways. Because those freeways are ones we drive every day. They become part of our daily rhythm.
We know no one when we first arrive. We can leave it that way if we choose to. Or we can begin to approach our neighbors and introduce ourselves. We begin to wave and call out hello when we see each other out watering our yards. We tell store clerks "We don't have this brand out in Portland, Oregon". We mention moving from Portland, Oregon, a lot to everyone we come across. And people respond with all kinds of friendly, welcoming words. They can't believe we left Portland for Michigan. Just about everyone will say, "But Oregone is so beautiful, isn't it? And it IS "Oregone" to them. That sounded so strange at first, as did the midwest accents all around us. But even those have begun to sound familiar, have become a recognizable rhythm in our days here, too. As to the beauty of Oregon, it is beautiful. But Michigan has its beauty, too. Just in different ways. The funny thing is, they don't know anything much about Oregon, about as much as I knew about Michigan when I arrived here.
It's all about rhythms. It's about getting established. It's about wrapping your head around the reality of moving to a whole different region, a whole different culture. It's about embracing the changes, about adapting to them and not holding stubbornly to the past. About not constantly comparing. It's looking at the new world around you with fresh eyes and an open mind, and being content where you are.
It's about finding that new rhythm, and making it your own.