I’m always moving ahead. Even when I appear motionless, my brain is firing rapidly and I’m pondering my next move. In all this progress, I sometimes forget to pause and reflect on exactly what has been happening in my life. With the start of 2016, it’s a particularly good time to check on progress and consider how much life has changed in a year.
This time a year ago, I was rearranging my office so I could be more productive in that space. I’d made my list of goals for 2015, and after a quiet New Year’s Eve celebration, I was ready to move forward with whatever came my way.
Two months later, we were discussing relocation, which was certainly not on my list of 2015 goals, and five months later, to the day, we drove up and unlocked the doors of our new home hidden in a secluded Pacific Northwest paradise. If you’ve been following the blog, you’ve read about the encounters with postal service, Internet providers and an odd religion operating nearby. Without recapping it all, I simply want to point out how drastically my vocabulary and daily activities have changed in the past year.
For those who know me from Los Angeles, it’s impossible to imagine that we gather firewood and take turns splitting it in order to heat our house in the winter. You have never pictured me operating a chainsaw or igniting a bonfire or cleaning out rainwater drainage systems in the driveway.
Words that never entered my daily lexicon now include “burn pile,” “felling notch,” “chainsaw kickback,” “cribbing,” “trenching,” and “lichen.” Lichen grows on everything that doesn’t move quickly and makes the bare winter trees appear to be budding early. I love it, but I’d never before given it much thought.
I’ve gone from worrying about my crop of lemons in California to worrying if there is enough firewood to get us through the winter. I no longer worry about rationing every drop that comes from the faucet to wondering how I can place a new garden bench on the soil without it sinking six inches into the mud. Putting up the Christmas tree used to involve unzipping a bag and fluffing up some artificial branches before sticking it in the corner, but this year we went with friends and I cut it down with a handsaw.
I used to leave the house, wondering how crowded the freeways would be, but now I have to leave enough time in case I have to remove trees that have fallen across the driveway. I keep work gloves in the car along with umbrellas and an extra jacket; things I never needed in Los Angeles.
I used to wonder whether I would take the 10 or the 210 freeways, and where should I get off depending on time of day. If someone were arriving for a visit, into which airport were they flying? Now there’s only one airport and one freeway to get there. I no longer have to look at a list of movie theaters to decide which will work best on a certain day. There’s only one. Believe it or not, we can be incredibly decisive when we reduce the number of choices.
It seems that no matter where I lived in Los Angeles, there was always a helicopter hovering somewhere within earshot. Something was always happening outside, and if it were a police helicopter, one might be greatly concerned about stepping into the yard until the commotion had ceased. It’s a relief that nothing like that goes on up here, but I still walk out the door cautiously lest I encounter one of the region’s predators. I’ve already encountered a coyote, and they make those urban coyotes in Los Angeles look like beagles. Whether it’s true or not, one of the locals said I should be thankful for the coyotes: “With them you know you don’t have any cougars around.”
I love life’s adventures, and if anything 2015 has taught me, it’s that you never know where life will take you if you let it, and if you open your mind to new experiences and new friends, you’ll have them and enjoy them. 2015 was amazing, and I look forward to even greater things in 2016. I wonder what I’ll be writing about a year from now.
© 2016 by Patrick Brown
Visit my author page at http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Brown/e/B005F0CYH2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1419885131&sr=8-1 to learn about my books “Moral Ambiguity” and “Tossed Off the Edge.”