Contemplation From A Mountain Man

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
article image

Living on our little homestead on the side of a mountain is a great way to live. There are abundant deer plus other wild animals. Yesterday morning Carol had to make a grocery trip to town and as she was leaving for town just down the road from our house a mountain lion (very large mountain lion according to her) crossed the road in front of her.  Where there are deer there are usually mountain lions nearby and we have lots of deer. 

Those are  the really great things about living off by ourselves on the side of our mountain.  There are downsides also.  One of which is that last night a pack rat chewed the tops off my potato plants ‘on our deck’ so that only the stems are left.  I will try to save the tub of potatoes but I suspect he will return tonight and finish the job. 

The other draw back is that living so rural where there are no close neighbors gives a mountain man time to think more than would be available in different circumstances.  Apparently that is reflected in my blogs because yesterday Carol picked up our mail in town where it has accumulated now for two weeks.  In the mail was a letter from a long time friend who lives across the country and reads my blogs on Mother Earth News. Let me share his observations and comments that he wrote to me.  I would  add that he is not only a long time friend but a truly good friend as well. 

He told me I was unique among his friends and he enjoyed my letters and writing.  (You always wonder, and it is good to hear feedback)  He then went on to tell me my blogs are well written, interesting, and informative.  But then he went on to say: “And something else – so many people these days have an ax to grind, or a chip on their shoulder.  You do not.  You are at peace with yourself and the world, and that makes for pleasant reading.”  He then said – “The airwaves are full of anger to the point of wanting some fresh air and calm sanity which you provide.” 

So having time and space to think here on our mountain,  I have pondered his comments to see if my  very long time friend  is just being kind or whether his words are true.  Just having the time to think also allows for some self examination.  I have contemplated every aspect of his comments and have concluded that he is right.  I am very comfortable and at peace with myself and the world.  I have come to the conclusion that what is most important in life is relationships and not trying to be someone I am not.  Both relationships with human friends and with animal friends. 

So why as a mountain homesteader do I even bring up such a topic.  1) because it is good to have time tested friends like I have plus  friends that will be totally honest with me.  2) that we should all from time to time stop and take stock of ourselves, along with some self examination. 3) that we should all be at peace with ourselves and if we are not that we should strive towards that goal. Therefore my good friend spurred me to do some thinking on the subject.  I thank him for doing that. 

A life altering moment happened for me about 35 years ago.  I either saw or read an interview about a man who had multiple PhD’s and worked for NASA.  He and several other rocket scientists had been laid off but he had found a relief  job as a taxi driver.  During the interview he was asked when the financial situation improved for NASA, was he going to return to work there.  His reply was straight forward and hit me like a sledge hammer.   He said he had wasted much of his life in pursuit of degrees and to be a scientist.  He said he had found his true pleasure was driving people around and personally interacting with them.  He said he would remain a taxi cab driver because the lay off had brought him to something he had discovered he  truly loved doing.  He loved people and a less stressful live and he would stick to it as long as he was physically able.  As a scientist his human interaction was limited to technical conversation  and  he found he craved and needed normal human interaction.  He had gone from putting rockets into space to being a cab driver and he really enjoyed driving cab. 

I have never forgotten what he said during that interview and over the  years the thought I  have given his words.  I conclude that it is important for us as individuals to be at peace with ourselves and  the world.   So my closing question is are you at peace with yourself and the world?  If not – why not?  Maybe it is time for some self examination before you become like my potato plant above – stalks and no visible life. 

That is the end of my musings from the mountain for today.  I want to thank my good friend for igniting some thought in me.