Reflections Of A Mountain Man

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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Exactly 15 years ago today I was waking up to face a new life.  I had worked hard and it was now time to enjoy retirement and what ever that entailed.  As I reflect back – it was 15 years ago today that I actually started living life.  Previous to that I had worked hard, achieving a degree of success and thought that was living.  After 8 years of service in the military I decided I was ready for  a career as a civilian.  My first employer when he hired me took a piece of paper and wrote a sentence on it and told me that was the answer to a successful career.  What he wrote was: “Determine what your employer expects of you and consistently give him more”.  Those were some of the wisest words ever bestowed upon me. 

I accepted that challenge and was committed to being the best ever in my field.  I believe I came close to reaching that goal and it brought with it all the rewards of consistently giving more.  I was able to climb the ladder of success based solely on that bit of advice.  I applied it to other parts of my life as well.  I would get my golf handicap to zero and when I achieved that would move on to another challenge like fishing, tennis, or a another sport.  I was driven to be the best in as many different areas as I could and when I would master one I’d take on another.  Sound familiar to anyone? 

Then 15 years ago today I chose to move to the mountains and woke up with only one challenge and that was coping with a new lifestyle.  I started to really live that day and now I have come to realize what life is truly about.  I enjoy the moment and the chance to share it with a good partner and our canine family.  I enjoy being outdoors and cutting firewood and all the sweat that goes into it each year.  I enjoy the many lessons learned from our four dogs.  To have the time to experience the unconditional love and devotion of our canine family is beyond words.  I love the interaction with our abundant wildlife.  The deer, elk, bear, occasional mountain lion and a host of other critters including our feathered friends.  I enjoy just sitting and feeling the warmth of the wood stove radiating heat in the winter.  I love to go to the other end of our property and sit in our swing and hear the sounds of the woods, the spring gurgling as it comes out of the ground, and the blinding blue sky.  I enjoy all these things and the reality of it all is that my life actually started 15 years ago today when I woke up in our mountain cabin for the very first time.

I have lost track of the man that wrote those words for me so many years ago.  He went on to be a vice president of Hartford Insurance Company, and we lost touch over the years.  I owe him a sincere debt of gratitude for giving me those words that have guided my life to this day.  They brought me to a place where I could finally stop and smell the roses.  Those words redirected my life and maybe they will inspire others too.  John Hill reduced success to a single sentence and it worked for me so maybe it will work for others as well. 

When Mother Earth News asked me to write for their blog site, I accepted the challenge. Because I am not a writer, however, it sounded like a chance to share those things I have learned over the years with others.  Therefore I am sharing one of  the most important sentences I have ever been given.  Thank you to Mother Earth News for providing this forum, for allowing me the chance to pass on some of the wisdom I have acquired from experience and for being there for so many of us and teaching us how to live life more fully. In a stressful world you are providing calm and reason and either in reality or vicariously a path for people like myself to return to the simple life.  

Most of all I reflect on the woman who has been my partner on this journey and by my side every step of the way.  Whose wisdom far transcends mine and whose gentle guidance has allowed us to finally enjoy 15years of real life here in the mountains.  For me I started to really live 15 years ago today and it has been a double privilege to live it with my life partner; Carol,  to whom I am forever in debt for helping to achieve such an ideal lifestyle and make all this possible.  So take heed readers, you need to set a goal and work towards it and when you achieve it I hope you derive all the benefits you dreamed of along the way. Once I didn’t think it possible but patience and perseverance and a good partner made it all happen. It wasn’t easy but it is possible.  

For more about Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lifestyle go to: