Wednesday, January 27, 2010


There was a story on the local news the other night about a recently deceased, 77-year-old man nicknamed, "Wild Man of the Smokies," who, after his family was forced from their land by the National Park Service upon the creation of the Great Smoky's National Park, eluded the law and spent the rest of his life, alone, in a remote mountain cabin with no modern conveniences. His family tried numerous times to persuade him to adapt certain amenities (running water, electricity, phone service) to his humble lifestyle, but he refused. Apparently, this man never knew what year or day of the week it was or who the president of the U.S. was. He told time by the position of the sun and was known to say, "Everything I need is right in front of me. Everything I want is right here."

This story reminded me of the very first idea I had for a blog post and one of the most important lessons I've learned. Last spring and summer, Sophie was old enough to be aware of her surroundings and Jeff and I were eager to take her to many of the places we'd always dreamt of bringing her. We took her to waterfalls, scenic hikes, mountain summits, and picturesque streams, all the while eager to see her reactions. Every single time, however, without fail, we were a bit disappointed. Instead of being drawn to the thunderous roar of the waterfalls, she was more interested in examining the gravel in the parking lot; instead of being seized by the sheer grandeur of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi, she found joy in climbing on the Park Service's cement benches. After experiencing this time and time again, it finally struck me - beauty is everywhere. It is in the sound of the Velcro strap of a toddler's stroller, it is in the way your body feels as it ascends and descends a steep hill, and it is in the droplets of rain slowly dripping off a freshly emerged leaf. The problem with expectation is that you blind yourself from everything except the object of your desire, all-the-while missing everything else along the way; you set yourself up for disappointment.

I told this story several months ago to my dear friend and spiritual advisor/teacher, Tom (this description does NOT do Tom or my relationship with him ANY justice what-so-ever, so stay tuned for a piece devoted just to him!), and after taking a moment to contemplate my words, he said (and although I'll use quotation marks I know I won't say this quite right), "People talk to me about traveling to India and other places around the world and if they ask me if I've been I usually answer, 'No, but have you seen your backyard?'"

So, here's to the "Wild Man" who never sought, to my daughter who is fascinated by everything she sees, hears, feels, smells, and tastes, to Tom for putting things into perspective, and to me for figuring it out on my own! This blog, which will catalog every little beautiful plant in my yard (especially as they sprout and bloom) feels that much more significant now.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE this post! I love that your daughter was into the gravel in the parking lot and that Tom reminded you that we are always seeking out beauty without stopping to notice it all around us. I've been thinking of you lately and envying your stay-at-home status. Enjoy every minute with that beautiful girl and that beautiful yard. With or without snowcover...