Why Am I In Milwaukee?

9/2/2017–With a three-day weekend, I had the feeling I should “use” it somehow. One of the first thoughts in my mind was to go somewhere, not Indy or Chicago, or any other familiar place. But I didn’t know of anyone else interested in a road trip, and I knew I’d have to work until Friday afternoon, and I didn’t want to buy a plane ticket. The idea of Milwuakee popped into my head because it’s just far enough to be considered a solid road-trip, and because I love the city, my first home away from home. So for about a week before this weekend I went back and forth between keeping it simple–driving to Indy and staying there for a solid family visit–or driving to Milwaukee. It wasn’t until Friday  afternoon at 3pm I decided to look for an Airbnb. The feeling of wanting to drive and get away for some me time was strong, and I was fortunate to find a great place to stay in Bay View.

So, once here I needed to answer the question, “Why am I in Milwaukee?” I recognize it’s unusual to drive alone six hours with nobody to see or anything planned–but so nice to have the freedom. That’s why I came–to take advantage of the freedom I have, knowing I won’t always have it. The freedom is to drive somewhere on a whim. What I felt I would enjoy was somewhere I’d feel at home, while not being at home; that’s Milwaukee.

While here, I am free to reflect on what’s important and how it’s going. It’s going well–I’m consistently becoming more familiar with God, I’m employed in work I enjoy, I’m keeping in touch with most of my family and friends, and am physically healthy. I haven’t been dating as often as I might the past few months, but I’ve definitely been productive in other meaningful ways. I’m about to begin two experiences that will challenge me to grow. One will be job coaching with a local organization, the other facilitating a mixed-race group through conversations on race relations. These follow different challenges I faced while experiencing three very different cultures around the world. In the past 18 months, I’ve been to several U.S. cities for the first time, Puerto Rico, India, and Japan–all with various close friends. I can’t imagine a more valuable way to spend time considering the perspective I gained seeing so many different places, and interacting with so many different types of people, all with my best friends at my side. Looking back on this time abroad, a concept I’d recommend travelers keep in mind is Victor Frankl’s idea that only two human races exist–decent man and indecent man. You can’t know right away–it’s true that you can’t know someone is “decent” or not until you get to know him or her by  interacting in multiple environments. There is also a factor of how a person is feeling at the moment you meet him or her, as our apparent decency can change depending on the environment. But, there are other, less helpful ways we are programmed to categorize people. So, I recommend assuming they’re decent until they behave otherwise, all the while fighting against the urge to label them based on the little you do know,  for example height or attractiveness. So it’s another way to say, “assume positive intent”. Travel is more enjoyable this way.

Things are good. I’m happy I came to Milwaukee.