Seven weeks living in central South Carolina was an unexpected enlightenment to the merits of old Southern towns. Sumter, specifically, proved my initial assumptions wrong. What first appeared to be a typical poor Southern town full of chain restaurants and a Super Walmart showed some real character and history.
Working for an organization just outside town, I began hunting down the points of history. Every time I left my hotel, new layers appeared. Hidden corners, dives, hole-in-the-wall gems and other interesting places soon manifested. While Sumter is still no glowing metropolis, it was more than the town I first saw.
An hour away, the state capital of Columbia has much more to see and do. Home of the University of South Carolina and Gamecocks football, this college town boasts a far greater variety of restaurants, bars, museums and, near and dear to my heart, coffee shops.
Little Five Points is the place to be and is infamous as a popular venue for local bands, one of which went on to fame and fortune -- Hootie & the Blowfish. The members met while attending USC before becoming famous. They still tour, today, and often frequent USO tours.
My favorite South Carolina experience, however, was Greenville. This charming town built in the foothills of the Appalachians (Ah-puh-LAH-chyins, not LAY) is truly green and vibrant. Buildings and homes hide around every bend of vibrant rolling hills. My brother, a new resident to the area, showed me a beautiful mountain lake only ten minutes from his new home where he plans to kayak and spend time.
Greenville has the kind of color and character I love most -- lots of local flavor, a little bit of hipster, delicious Southern cuisine and hospitality, and flowing green from abundant rain.
Personally, I've been learning more and more about how I chase after empty hopes and false assumptions of fulfillment. I want a great stable income that comes from doing the things I love and allow full-time travel; this is a fine pursuit, but how I pursue is has set too much hope on something that can, in no way, provide the inner peace I desire. Instead, God has been pushing me to embrace living TODAY.
The opposite of the YOLO concept, which encourages people to give up wisdom in favor of excitement, living today is about embracing the value and import of now as a form of peace and faith. Let me explain.
Our American sensibilities -- which I greatly value in general -- comes with a lie: "Achieving produces happiness." While I'm proud of what our nation has achieved as a can-do, will-do kind of people, the other side of that coin means we believe that what comes from doing will bring us happiness. The irony of it is that the doing is what can bring us the most fulfillment, if we change our perspective on it.
From God's point of view, we all were made with a distinct purpose. Part of our pursuit of perfection comes from the pursuit of our purpose. I'm a messenger at heart -- all my pursuits in life are intrinsically linked to my skills passing information between people, translating between types of understanding and knowledge bases, and sharing valuable research.
To me, God stresses that my eyes shouldn't be on potential fame, fortune and "fulfillment" by achieving something with my blog or my books, though they may come, but that if I'm a writer, I should write. If I am a visual designer, I should design. While I can shape those efforts toward a potential financial return, my pursuit of value doesn't come from "being" someone in the "successful man" sense, but by being who God made me to be today and by pursuing what He has for me, today.
Are you chasing after a result that isn't yours to decide? Are you ignoring the value of doing today what you are designed to do? Consider changing your perspective. Let go of tomorrow. Plan ahead, but use that plan to best live out TODAY, not chase after tomorrow.