Years ago when I lived just outside Boston I asked a neighbor where he was going on his holiday weekend.
He said, “Why should I go anywhere, when I’m already there?”
I’ve thought about that over the years. It’s made me appreciate being “right where I am.”
When I retired to New Mexico from New York City years ago, my friends invited me to join them on their hikes.
And of course, I am a sucker for “good hiking.” I penciled in dates and places I would go with each of them.
My calendar was full of “bucket list” hikes to exotic places I’d never yet visited.
It had a cornucopia of far away adventures such as a hike with Jim in France’s Vanoise National Park, with Chuck to the Milford Path in New Zealand and to the Hindu Kush with Mike. I prepared for them in exciting anticipation.
But one day in early summer on a hike down the Rio Grande gorge with a teenage son of a friend, I had an epiphany.
We had eaten our lunch sitting on rocks with our feet dangling in the cool river water. As we chatted about virtually “nothing,” it occurred to me and I said, “Lucas, I don’t know why I’d want to go anywhere, when I’m already where I’ve always wanted to be,” recalling of course that long-ago Boston neighbor’s observation.
Actually, I’ve been that way about a lot of places I’ve lived, right in the heart of Manhattan, in White Plains and Queens neighborhoods as well of course some suburban areas. Each in its own way, was really wonderful. I’ve had many good times, just by being there in my comfort zone. This was especially true because of meditating a couple of times daily.
I do not need to work myself up about what other people may or may not be doing that I do not like. That is “out there.” And I’m “right here.”
And right here — all is well in my little world. Perhaps tomorrow I will have to face something not so pleasant. But why spoil this day with what may or may not happen tomorrow.
And of course, I do from time to time, extend my thoughts into my tomorrows. I grew up in a time when things were not so plentiful as they are today — the great Depression and World War II when there was strict rationing of foods like meat and sugar. I also did my military service in the U.S. Navy.
During those days we had a daily diet of hundreds of thousands of lives lost in battle, concentration camps, masses shot by firing squads, and hundreds of thousands dying from starvation in the Ukraine and the streets of India.
It was difficult, but possible and necessary, for most of us, most of the time, to find moments to come to stillness and find peace of mind.
We found solace in church. Or on a hike.
Isn’t it a matter of what ideas we allow to take residence in our minds?
I like to think of Anne Frank’s diary, which she wrote while she and her family daily feared being taken any day to death camps by the Gestapo.
Here are some of her diary entries.
I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.Whoever is happy will make others happy too.I don’t think of all the misery, but of all the beauty that still remains.Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside,somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God.Because only then does one feel that all is as it should beand that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature.