All my life, for as long as I can remember, with exception to my baptism as an infant (which I actually remember), I have looked backwards. I have always sought the past, reminisced on the good times, wished I could be there again, have it again, longed for the comforts of yesterday. In Genesis 19:26, we learned the price of looking back.
In the biblical tale, the angels ordered Lot’s family to leave and not look back. The story goes, his wife looked back and upon the sight of God, she turned to a pillar of salt. I mean, it was a simple commandment – run for your life, don’t stop running until you reach (what would become) Zoar, and don’t look back. She did, and poof. Instant Mortons.
There’s another perspective to that tale for me, and one I hold to personally because of my penchant for looking to the past. I’d have a new car, but miss something from the last. I’d have a new girlfriend, or be alone, and long for the one who broke my heart. I’d find difficulty in a new job, and look back at the old while ignoring that I’d stood still for years at that job.
Looking back is easy. Our lives, our very beings are constructed by our past experiences and our memories. The catch is though, that memories of joy can hold us back just greatly as memories of grief. Either can turn us into an immobile pillar of salt. Over the past decade, I’ve had plenty of moments where I looked back and stopped looking forward. The more we look in the mirror, the greater the chance we miss the road ahead… the opportunities that the Lord provides to each and every one of us.
I have had this idea for over a decade now, to move south. No idea how I’d do it. No idea when I’d do it. No clue where I’d even go. Sure I focused on North Carolina, because up until that point in my life it was my only experience with what someone would refer to as “the south” – pit-stops on a family drive to Florida notwithstanding.
My takeaways were a laid back lifestyle, everything cost less, and with very minimal exception – everyone was friendly. Here I sit 10 years later, and any expectations I had back then were absolutely met. Looking back now – it’s not a matter of longing. It’s a matter of looking at who I was then, where I was – and comparing who and where I am today to that guy.
I am looking forward.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”Philippians 3:12-14
I know me, not as well as God does, but I do know myself. I know I am fickle. I know that when I get a head of steam in me to accomplish something, it can be fleeting. When I look back to where I was in 2012, and all that transpired since, to see that I held on to the idea of moving south all that time, that was not me – that was God all the way.
He lead me here. He wove together the life experiences which I needed to endure so I would be ready. He granted me the ability to do what I needed to do – to focus on what lies ahead. I am blessed because He has blessed me, there is no other reason than that. So here I am, two weeks in to my Georgia residency… what’s going on?
I’m mostly settled into my new home, I still need to unpack things (I have been unpacking as the need arrives) as well as discard the old packing material. There are a few things that need to get resolved at the house, the central air blows hot and there is some exposed cabling in the yard (looks like fiber optic and cable). I’m also likely hiring a landscaper to care for the yard.
There are a pair of wild chickens who frequent my property and poop a lot, I’ve named them Coco and Bailey (in honor of my old neighbor’s two dogs who frequented my property… and pooped a lot!). I’ve got ant-hills the size of Toyotas (which will be addressed next week by a pest control company)… and I’m still waiting to get my name on the trash removal bill.
Switching over to a GA driver’s license took all of 15 minutes, while getting the new GA tags for my car was a little more involved. They weren’t able to pull up the VIN number for my car in their system, so I had to call the local PD to verify the VIN and confirm the car was not stolen, along with filling out a specific form. That all took maybe a half hour.
I traded in my 10 year old Kawasaki for a brand new Indian, and the trade-in value was the same as what I’d asked back when I was trying to sell the bike before the move. The new bike took some getting used to as I’ve gone from a cruiser to a sport bike with a 1200cc V-Twin, but it did not take long before I began to thoroughly enjoy it. It also matches my car. 🙂
Everybody speeds down here, and not a little. I’ve seen many traffic stops but I’m not sure (that I want to find out) why these folks were stopped. On most roads with exception to active school zones, everyone drives at least 10mph over. The Interstates can be hot garbage. Time it right, I can set the cruise control and relax. Time it wrong (83% of the time), stop and go.
There are a few places I can get to without the use of GPS (supermarket, gas station, etc…) and probably more, but I have learned I am not quite ready to NOT rely on it. On Wednesday, after it had rained most of the day, I decided to try and go pick up my new bike. I eyeballed the map, remembered the road names and exits, and proceeded to spend 2 hours on a 45 minute ride.
Whoops. I wound up purchasing a “Quad Lock” handlebar mount to hold the phone (I still need to incorporate charging), but having the GPS in my field of view definitely removes some stress from the equation. I also got a new helmet (previous was maybe 7 years old) with built in bluetooth, so I can hear the voice prompts or listen to some music. It’s a game changer.
As far as food goes, there are 2 restaurants I’ve been frequenting. Fish Tales in Flowery Branch which is a lake-front Caribbean themed restaurant. The mahi mahi tacos are fantastic, as is the service. The other is Branch House Tavern (also in Flowery Branch), when I arrived a few weeks ago to look at a house, it was the only place open late while everywhere else closed down.
Again – excellent bbq and smoked food, good beer selection, and overall a very comfy place to kick back for a few. I do need to expand my options, of which there are many. I’m sure once I spend more time on the bike exploring, I’ll be taking notes!
Besides a few instances where I was tailgated, everyone is exceptionally friendly and open to conversation down here. For all the stereotypes my northern peers have expounded in regard to the south over the years, I’m happy to report they’re completely wrong. Even the transplants I interact with when I’m out and about have adopted that laid back style.
It is refreshing, and peaceful. So that’s it for now. I need to get back to work unpacking what’s in the garage and decide what I’m going to do for dinner tonight. OH! I will say the prices down here are amazing for any sort of meat. Literally half or lower compared to what I’d be paying back in NY. I need to get my smoker going!