I just wanted to take a minute to thank NATO for influencing my life over the last week. Where many are cursing the summit as a disruption in their everyday lives I welcome the changes that were encouraged in my own world. Here are two things I don’t normally do. I don’t write about the stuff that I do without some reference to how it pertained to a higher purpose. I don’t listen to rumor mongering about how an event in the city will alter the lives of city residents from people who don’t even live in the city of Chicago. I’m kind of going to bend my rules on both of those in that I’m about to post on a amazing five days of activity and I’m going to acknowledge that those five days were influenced by my decision to take the time off of work to avoid the predictions of disaster that the NATO summit forecasted.
It was mostly a coincidence. I had three unused vacation days to use up before the end of May. CJ had a bridal shower and a bachelorette party in the suburbs to attend to on Saturday and Sunday. I figured why not avoid the commute to work uncertainty and just take Thursday through Tuesday off. Maybe one of the best decisions of my life. So here’s how it turned out…
Shortly after deciding to take the time off I realized that on Thursday mornings my original yoga Guru taught one of his few classes of the week. I’ve missed it for years due to my work and travel schedule. I made last weeks class my primary target. When I walked into the Yoga circle I said, “Is there room for wayward old yogis in this class?” Gabriel Halpern gave me a big hug and we practiced together with about 40 others in his amazing class. In that class I ran into and old yoga friend from 12 years ago and had one of those “I know you but can’t remember where from” episodes. By the end of class we both remembered and then laughed and told stories. I also ran into a dear friend that I earned my first black belt with who I hadn’t seen for at least eight years. Unquestionably a rare set of coincidences in a short amount of time.
After class Gabriel invited me to come back at 2 p.m and catch up on the last ten years of life. With a couple of hours to kill I met up with CJ and our new friend Elisa who is a country singer with a couple of albums. We sat outside on the terrace at Osteria on perfect Spring day that defined the term abundant sunshine. After lunch a couple of hours with Gabriel reminded even further why he had been (and will be again) such an important mentor in my life. I had just enough energy to take another class later that night with one of my primary current Gurus Jessica Carlin. Quite an amazing day.
On Friday I woke up and went off to teach my usual early morning yoga classes. I had to drive through the Loop after class and saw the tremendous police presence but was only slightly inconvenienced by street closures. This day was to be the only Jim and CJ day of the entire staycation and it couldn’t have turned out any better. We sat on the terrace at Chicago Cut steakhouse and had amazing lobster rolls and wine. We took the 90 minute river and lake architectural tour on the Wendella boat. After a nap we had a little five hour 25 course dinner that I blogged about in my last post.
On Saturday we had to go our separate ways for the weekend while I was off to New Buffalo, CJ was off to Schaumburg for a bridal shower and bachelorette party. Although I was sad to part ways I had a great day putzing around my cottage and cleaning out garden beds. Later that evening my buddy and I hit some golf balls in oppressive heat. My recent run on dining al fresco had me jonesing for more so we drove down to Michigan City to eat along the water at Bridges Cafe. Later that night a seat on that back porch at Casey’s tavern with other locals and a little Blues capped another great day.
Sunday was blogging about the 25 course dinner while sitting on the best damn front porch in Harbor County. Later that day I had the pleasure of hanging out at New Buffalo public beach and a private pool in town. Can’t forget to mention an amazing home cooked dinner and bon fire on my own back porch with two of my best buddies. After dinner the rains came in so we retired to that best damn front porch in Harbor County again and stayed there until 2 in the morning. I’d like to say it was a bad decision but I’d be lying.
To wrap it all up on Monday there was a little day of golf with 2o friends/acquaintances at the venerable Whittaker Woods that involved 36 holes and a level of exhaustion that can only be enjoyed by crazy golfers like all of us. Later that night I turned down the chance to hit dinner and the casino to instead enjoy some very precious alone time finally. I woke up and drove back to post NATO Chicago with a great appreciation for the unique flavor of my five days off.
It’s a rare privilege to step outside your life on the same playing fields that you normally play on. It might have never happened if it wasn’t for the potentially Armageddon producing summit that came our way. At the end of it all I say “Thank you NATO” your purpose of world peace may have started on a small scale with a boost of personal peace. Oh the joy…