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At 88 I’ve Never Been Happier!

Bill & Tessa after 4 days of snow 1-13-16Like a Boston friend said, when I asked where he was going on his vacation,

Why go anywhere when I’m already there?

I too, am already there.  I mean here is my there.

We’ve been retired out here now twenty-two years.

My wife and I began visiting from New York City thirty years ago.

She immediately began fantasizing what it would be like to wake up in the morning and not have to leave.

Well, we visited Taos five more times that year.  And many more over the next few years. In time we retired out here to a casita in the mountains that my wife designed and built.

As I retired I  blocked out my calendar with all the hiking trips I was going to take with many different friends to exotic places —

A national park in the French Alps,

New Zealand’s famous Milford Track,

The Hindu Kush,

Even a trek around the sacred Mount Kailash all the way on the other side of Tibet.

Then, one afternoon on a hike down at the bottom of the Rio Grande Gorge with a local friend, eating our lunch on some rocks in the midday sun, our feet dangling in the cool water of the Rio Grande, I was so blissed out I said,

You know what I’m going to do?

I am going to cancel all those trips on my calendar as soon as I get home.

Why should I fly anywhere when I am already there!

I called all my friends, cancelled plans to join them on their exotic jaunts. Instead, I invited them out here to hike.

I’ve not for one minute regretted that decision.

And while a number of my friends out here take trips to enviable places, coming back with i-pads loaded with alluring photos, they do not spark the slightest desire for me to take another trip.  I do not even like to travel any more.

I’m pleased to say, that even when I have been on our rare trips to the Swiss Alps and thoughts run through mind about “how nice it might be to live there,” it always turns me back around to thinking, “I already live in best place in the world!”

Many of our new friends are like the couple who are visiting from Scotland right now.  They are both doctors, avid downhill skiers, who  just  bought a condo in Taos Ski Valley.  They say that we have better skiing here than any place in Europe.  And the best skiing in the US.

 

Hiking Mecca

This state offers a cornucopia of incomparable hiking opportunities.  I mean 13,000-foot peaks in summer, lower slopes and high mesa desert in spring and fall, river gorges in winter as well as the mountain slopes with their beautiful snow covering.

A three-and-a-half day blizzard just ended. While it was blowing I was confined to hiking a mile or so along our road, which actually is as good as it gets in most hiking places.

Then there is our small-village social life.

Today while I was hiking, a friend who was plowing our three-mile stretch of road stopped to chat.  Tony is the son of another friend, Ray, who is more my age and one our finest artists.

Two other neighbors also drove by. And each of them stopped to chat.

Nice to have so many friends and acquaintances, even though we live a more solitary life out here in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

I was prompted by a dream the other day to make a bucket list.

But, do you know what? I couldn’t think of a thing to put on it.  I’ve been every place I’ve ever really wanted to go and done everything I’ve really wanted to do.

I mean, there is nothing I can imagine that could make life better than it is right now.

While I’ve had my health issues, fortunately none have incapacitated me enough to cut my hiking.  And my hiking is where I am able to realize and be who I truly am.

And now a confession.  In the years of my retirement I’ve had a strange series of financial disasters including loss of a business and a bundle in the bust of the 90s dot-com boom.

And yet, thanks be to God, I have my health, I have my home, I have my trails, I have a great loving wife. I have my children and grandchildren.  And I have no debts.  And income sufficient to put gourmet meals on our table every day thanks be to my wife!

Tell me how it could get any better?

 

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4 Responses

  1. peterstephens2014u
    | Reply

    Great story.

  2. Heidi Sparkes Guber
    | Reply

    Bill… I so love this blog and so love you! What a generous expression of true gratitude and appreciation! I also must say that I wake up everyday here just naturally happy… unreasonably so! and can’t wait to come home when I am away. Elizabeth and I are preparing to hike the Camino with Erica for her birthday this year… and we have begun training here with long and steep hikes in our beautiful mountains… This is OUR Camino and we are loving every moment.

  3. Katie
    | Reply

    This is totally inspiring, and it is about FAR more than your location. I could read this and lament being stuck in the city and having to work so hard to afford to live here, and then allow my fears of the possibility of not being “so lucky” when I’m older to take over. In fact, I fall into worrying so much, that I suck you into worrying about me, too, even believing in it.

    When I look at things as you have chosen to look at them the day you wrote this, I realize how much I have, and how much I’ve been given. Just to open my eyes and senses and to allow the experience of the moment penetrate my being. Then it doesn’t matter where I am or what my circumstances; I can see where I am taken care of, where I am fortunate, how just the air on my skin or the sun peeking through the buildings is a true miracle. My entire perception of my circumstances, my environment, the world around me has changed.

    This change of perception is a great mystery. Do I choose it? How does it come about? How do I remember to experience this different reality? I can practice experiencing the moment, and I can practice gratitude. But yet I still exist somewhere between my lower perceptions and this higher one. The pendulum swings.

    I know you’ve paid dearly to arrive at this state of happiness; paid in a lot of loss, dark nights of the soul, doubt, a lot of fear. I also know it’s never a straight line, and that you are tested regularly, like I am.

    I wonder if the darkness and light need each other to exist?

    • BackpackerBill
      | Reply

      Great comment, Katie. You see things deeply! My friends and I say that “Gratitude is an Attitude!” And it is amazing how important that attitude is, to a beautiful life. Good for you. My heart’s with you. You are such a dear daughter. I’ve been lucky to be your father. Thanks so much.

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