My grandfather was a self-educated, blue collar guy.  He loved the outdoors and took me with him on many long walks through the woods and across the fields of rural Indiana and Michigan where I grew up.  He knew the names of plants and the habits of animals.  As we walked, he pointed things out and helped me understand them.  He told me that everything I need to know about life can be learned from nature.  But he cautioned me that nature shares her wisdom only with those who are worthy of receiving it.  He also cautioned me that nature is a subtle teacher and that it takes careful observation and a sense of reverence to learn her secrets.  Many people, he said, draw the wrong conclusions because they do not observe carefully.  Grandpa was also a poet.  I think he would have approved of this offering.

Make the Earth Your Companion
by J. Patrick Lewis

Make the Earth your companion.
Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do.
Let the Sky paint her beauty—she is always
watching over you.
Learn from the Sea how to face harsh forces.
Let the River remind you that everything will pass.
Let the Lake instruct you in stillness.
Let the Mountain teach you grandeur.
Make the Woodland your house of peace.
Make the Rainforest your house of hope.
Meet the Wetland on twilight ground.
Save some small piece of Grassland for a red kite
on a windy day.
Watch the Icecaps glisten with crystal majesty.
Hear the Desert whisper hush to eternity.
Let the Town weave a small basket of togetherness.
Make the Earth your companion.
Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do.

I have Learned

One thing I have learned in life is that small acts of kindness can be transformational.  When I tell people how their kindness has changed my life, they often have no recollection of the event.  To them it was no big deal.  To me it was everything.  I was reminded of this the other day when I received a call from an old friend.  I haven’t seen him in at least 30 years.  He called to thank me for something I did in the 1970’s.  He said it saved his marriage and was the impetus for him starting a business that made him wealthy.  

So, what did I do that was so meaningful?   I have no idea.   And it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that I was able to help someone have a better life.  Whose life will you change today with your kindness?  Who changed your life with theirs?  Have you thanked them?  

And so it begins…

The author Jonathan Carroll observed, “Writing is for me like walking down the landscape of the self. You find false trails, roads closed for repairs, impregnable fortresses, scouts, armies of memory, and impossible cartography.”

And it is in that spirit I set forth on this journey. Should you wish to accompany me all or part of the way, I am most grateful for your companionship.  You need not agree with or accept that which we find along the way.  The journey is based on my experience.  Keep what you find useful and leave the rest.

I read all comments but please don’t expect a response.  Comments that are argumentative, demeaning, derogatory, or hostile in any way will be deleted and the authors blocked.

I have chosen to begin my journey in a place of gratitude.  And I am grateful for all that has happened to me…for the good, of course, but equally for the bad, the tragic and the ugly.  Here is a beautiful poem about gratitude by David Budbill to start us on the path.

by David Budbill

Tonight at sunset walking on a snowy road, my shoes
crunching on the frozen gravel, first

though the woods, then out into the fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening

a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.