This past summer I took the opportunity to go on a lazy road trip with my oldest and closest friend. It was a back-road tour of Appalachia. Having spent most of my life in the Pacific North West and the Rocky Mountains, this was quite an adventure.
It was a circular route. We started in Virginia, headed east into West Virginia and Kentucky, then south into Tennessee and Georgia. After spending a day in beautiful Savannah, Georgia, we headed north through South and North Carolina, and then back into Virginia.
Much of the trip was spent outdoors – hiking, fishing, walking, touring, etc. – and most of our time outdoors was secluded and peaceful. There were very few people, and it was refreshing to be alone in the vastness of those beautiful mountains. However, from time to time that peaceful tranquility would be suddenly broken by a loud, incessant buzzing sound. It was often loud enough that we had to yell over it to converse.
Finally, as we fished near Fredericksburg, VA, the sound came again, louder than ever. Exasperated, I complained about those “damn bugs” and bragged that we don’t have anything like that “out west”. My friend smiled and informed me of where that sound was coming from.
The sound was created by cicadas. He explained that they live underground – sometimes only emerging once every 15 years or so. It turns out that that noise that had been grating on me the entire trip, was actually something of a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.
See, Cicadas live in the Midwest and in Appalachia. I was right, they don’t live “out west”. As rarely as they come to the surface, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever have the opportunity to hear them again.
And the whole trip I’d been wishing they’d shut up, not realizing that I was experiencing something unique and special.
I think about that a lot.
How many opportunities are we missing because we only see them as an inconvenience or an interruption?