Listening to music the other day that James Taylor song played: “The Secret of Life is Enjoying the Passage of Time” and I thought how spot on! Time is going to pass. We might as well enjoy the ride! 45 years have passed since the first time I came to Lake City; it was our honeymoon. My husband grew up with family vacations on Vickers Ranch and he couldn’t wait to share Lake City with me; serendipitous that this is now our home. Our grandchildren now play in the river where their parents played a moment ago. I was 17 when Bruce and I met and 20 when we married on August 20, 1977. I am amazed. I am grateful.
Immersed in trees and high grasses, the mountains and the river on a nature walk with the dogs this morning, a doe bounces by, I feel peaceful and grateful. Surely every reader here has experienced how good it feels to be in nature, that’s why Lake City is so important. Whether it’s a hike up in the mountains, a walk through the woods, or enjoying the sound of the river and spotting a duck family serenely swimming, science teaches that this phenomenon is a real thing. It says that the closer we are to nature, the healthier we will be. It’s easy for me to feel and understand this concept. That’s why I love living here. What a great place to enjoy the passage of time.
Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. Daily my husband and I express gratefulness for each other and for living here. The best feeling in the world, a celebration of being alive, is living the dream! While so much of the world has endured an extra hot, often too dry, humid summer, ours has been a delightfully cool extra rainy summer. While so much of the world has experienced the horrors of Covid we have mostly been spared. Shawna, our RN has been doing a great job with dispensing available vacancies. Always, we have the mountains for an escape.
As growing human beings have always searched for meaning in life, it is easier to find life’s meaning in our little, mountain village where we live so intimately with nature and with each other. How is such splendor possible? The might of the mountains, the miracle of a spider’s web, infused with dew, sparkling in the sunlight. The height of a tree, rooted deep in the earth, stretches to the sky. I feel awe and joy. As the noises fade, calm and stillness are a relief. Breathing in peacefulness, along with the clean, mountain air is a privilege. We hike and picnic, photograph and paint, walk and sit, ponder and pray in the quietness.
Every day I walk. Continually we are told that walking is the best exercise. Walking can help us maintain a healthy weight, a healthy heart, healthy bones, balance and coordination, and more. Living in the mountains provides instant healthy access to walking in nature. Studies conclude that after meeting our basic needs and some nonessential desires; making more money does not make people happier – however good internet might. The repairman said that he was amazed that we got anything with as little bandwidth as we are given. Cheaper, easier, more convenient places to live and work, with better internet abound and we choose to live here.
Our village and mountains intertwine. It is so easy to get involved in our little community. Opportunities are plentiful. I ask my 9-year-old buddy Elsa if she’s comfortable in her jacket or does she want to take it off before buckling up. My language to her comes back to me, “I’m comfortable but thank you for asking.” For years I read aloud to Elsa until I was hoarse. We visit the library regularly as she requests. Librarians Elaine and Taffy are always good for a laugh as well as a book. I laugh some days as Grant, our newspaper publisher and I pass each other for the third time in a day. Me with Elsa in tow and he has a camera in hand getting that next story. As secretary of Christian Community Services, I’ll be sending out the minutes of our last meeting as our next one is approaching. Bernie, Linda, Dr. Gattis, and PA Bob have thanked me profusely for my years on the medical board. Where else can you have your UPS guy on your phone? Matt delivers a package and kindly lifts it to me so I don’t strain my back bringing it up the deck steps.
On his day off Bob communicates with Dr. Gattis about my backache. On his day off Dr. Gattis calls to check on me. A large number of town folk come to an early morning meeting in a show of support for the importance of Dr. Gattis. Our dogs are so blessed to have Doc. Linda. I have been so concerned about Joy I didn’t think about the time or day of the week and Linda’s response to my text message while in church; reassuring me she’s soon going to be on her way. The impact we create becomes our measure of success.
When we commit to love each other, we commit to making the bumpy road of life smoother together. Living with another person, living in a tiny community, and working out the bumps that come up, is more than worthwhile. Life is full of surprises, and not all of them are good, so make the most of every moment. Glitches along the way are normal. Keep working on the relationship(s).
Nature is reality. We can’t stop it from raining. We can’t delay the setting sun. We can’t keep the seasons from changing. Climbing a mountain, our muscles are going to burn. Hardship and lack of control are part of life. Getting through the hard times brings forward the joy of being alive.
Perhaps by living in nature we can appreciate our mortality rather than trying to ignore it. With its natural life cycles, nature is reminiscent of death. In our culture, it is common to avoid acknowledging that we, and everyone we love, are going to die. In nature, we encounter dead trees nursing young plants to life. Burned places create a plethora of wildflowers thriving in the newly enriched soil. It is not uncommon to come across animal skulls and bones. When we come face to face with death, perhaps we value life and the present moment a bit more. Perhaps we experience surges of joy to be alive.
Yesterday evening, sitting on our back stoop, watching for the first star of the evening, my husband and I were joined by our dogs. Hummingbirds gather at the feeders hanging in the window beside my writing nook. My husband draws my attention to the vivid picturesque colors surrounding Crystal Peak. A celebratory 45th anniversary includes dinner at CLIMB and watching the page-turner Where the Crawdads Sing at our Mountaineer Theater. 45 years! Indeed, the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.
Are you able to enjoy the passing of time and not be so consumed about aging and death? What makes you happy?
“The most precious gift we can give one another is letting them know they matter.” Julie A R Stephens