I took a deep breath. The door slid shut behind me. In front of me sat the gleaming black coach that looked as if it had been made yesterday. I wanted to climb aboard and take a ride down sixth street. I was in heaven.
Well, actually, I was in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield. But for me, that's pretty close. It's Lincoln Utopia.
And so it is no small wonder that my favorite February holiday is Lincoln's birthday.
Every February 12, I make cupcakes in honor of our 16th president. Nothing fancy, just usually some basic chocolate cupcakes to celebrate the day. Because I can.
Ironically, the first time I went to the museum, I was not single. My then-boyfriend and I took a trip to Springfield, mostly to see the "new" museum, but we also went to Lincoln's house and tomb. It was a fun trip and I enjoyed sharing the experience with someone I cared about.
It was only a few weeks ago. I was in Springfield for the Governor's inauguration and I knew most of the day would be spent going to receptions and talking to large crowds of people I don't really know. Which is tough for an introvert.
So I wanted to squeeze in a visit to the museum first. When I walked inside, it was completely quiet. There was no one there but me. No tourist families trying to get their kids to be interested in reading displays. No school groups running around, pushing each other to be able to see better. No annoying know-it-alls spouting false facts about Lincoln that I'm just dying to correct. Just me.
Well, and the docents. Probably about five people asked me if was my first visit as I walked through the hallway. I just laughed. "No," I said. "I've been here many times."
But there was something new, something I hadn't seen before. A new exhibit. Exhilaration! And that's when I stepped through that sliding door.
I cannot describe to you how amazing that morning was. I was able to look at the new exhibit without any interruptions or distractions. I had a few great conversations with different docents. Mostly, I was in a place that I love to be, surrounded by quiet and calm. And it was AWESOME. It was rest for my soul.
Now, visiting a museum about Lincoln may not sound like rest for your soul. But there is something that is - something you love to do or a place you love to be. For my sister, it's the Michigan dunes. Every year we go camping, she hikes up there by herself - to spend some time alone, resting her soul. And you can have more than one place/thing. But you don't need to wait for someone else to go with you to enjoy it.
I think we have lost the ability to be alone. We don't know who we are when we are by ourselves and the quiet makes us nervous. I don't like to go to new places or try new things by myself - it's hard. But it can also be amazing.
Don't wait. Don't avoid going somewhere you really want to go, or doing something you really want to do, or trying something you want to try just because you don't have anyone to go with you. And don't let a lame made-up holiday that is only liked by businesses (and that most married people I know just ignore) bring you down. Celebrate Lincoln's birthday instead. You might just find some rest for your soul along the way.