Friday night my family and I drove down to Chicago from Milwaukee. We had planned a fun holiday season weekend in the city. And when I say we planned it, I mean, my wife Dawn planned it. But I drove. And found parking.
The itinerary included restaurants and shopping. The central event was going to the The Nutcracker at the Lyric Opera House. Which is a funny name for an opera house, because I haven’t understood a single lyric of any opera I have ever seen.
After driving nearly 3 hours through snow and rain Friday evening we finally got to Chicago. We checked into our hotel and walked to our dinner reservation. Which was delicious. Then we walked back to our hotel. At 9pm, as the 5 of us relaxed in our hotel room we had to decide if we were done for the night.
It would have been easy to stay in our hotel room. After all, we had already had a long day of school, work, travel and walking. Plus, the room was comfy.
We debated our evening plan for several minutes. But we were on a family adventure in Chicago. So we decided we were heading back out into the city.
We had packed our ice skates for the trip, just in case the spirit moved us. And at 9pm on Friday night, it moved us. So I threw a duffel bag loaded with 5 pairs of skates over my shoulder and we urban hiked nearly a mile to the Millenium Park ice skating rink, which is right next to the Chicago Bean. (The magical fruit.)
We found a bench and sat down to swap our shoes for skates, Mr. Rogers-style. For the next hour, we skated and laughed and tried not to fall or get run over.
Christmas music played. The lights of the city skyscrapers rose high in the background. And there were Christmas lights twinkling everywhere. It was a magical night.
As I experienced the child-like joy of skating at night in the heart of one of the world’s greatest cities, 2 weeks before Christmas, there was a thought that kept running through my head:
I could have missed this. My family and I could have lounged on the beds in our hotel rooms. And watched TV. Or scrolled through our phones. Or simply gone to bed. And we would have missed this experience. An experience that didn’t cost a dime. It simply required us to get out and do it.-Inner me (as told to Outer Me.)
Live while you can. Fill your days with experiences and adventures. Enjoy time with friends and family while you can. Because someday it will be too late. And you will wish you had.
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