From its dawn through the mid-twentieth century, 90 percent of all gloves sold in the United States were manufactured in Gloversville, New York; making it one of the most appropriately named cities on the continent.
Originally known as “Stump City” because of all the trees that had been cut down it was incorporated in 1890. Having spent three weeks there, I can tell you firsthand that the sidewalks have probably not been repaired since that date. In many places, taking a walk was akin to scaling miniature cement mountains, circumventing canyons, crevices, and summits that substituted for a walkway.
Yet, it surpassed Augusta, Maine’s sidewalks, which were non-existent.
Trying to navigate the roadway to the shopping center, a distance of about one half mile, was analogous to open field running in a war zone. One scouts oncoming traffic waiting for a break, upon a clear patch, dash hurriedly down the road to the next safe haven, pause again for traffic, and repeat the process. (If more communities had decent sidewalks, it sure would help solve our obesity problem. However, that’s another topic.)
In the previous 94 days, I traveled 18,594.6 miles (give or take), from Anchorage to Augusta, Rutland to Redding.
While on the road, I visited a 20-foot tall chocolate fountain in Alaska. I resisted the urge to climb in, but succumbed to sampling real honest-to-goodness Vermont-made maple syrup while in Burlington. If you have not this pleasure, imagine the taste of a warm sunrise lightly brushed with natural honey gliding over your tongue, evaporating into airy nothingness.
Although mostly work-related, my journeys were book-ended by highly personal, deeply emotional events.
My first assignment forced me to leave town the exact day our mini-Schnauzer Jack, died without warning. Fortunately, the final leg on this undertaking culminated by celebrating the wedding of our youngest son, Brandon. I’m man enough to admit I cried at the ceremony. Yet, the tears shed at my son’s vows were so much more welcome than those at the onset of this journey.
These last three months have been an allegory, reminding me that our days on this planet are a passage; crowded with wondrous sights, dizzying highs, and — unfortunately — soul crushing lows. Understanding that life is indeed a journey, we mistakenly assume it will be better when we “get there,” wherever “there” happens to be. I know I am not unique; postponing plans, waiting for the perfect time, rationalizing it will be better “when things settle down” or “we have more money.”
Sadly, that makes us passengers in our own lives, rather than the drivers, waiting to live instead of experiencing it, allowing each day to pass into history without note.
“When the mortgage is paid off…”
“When the kids have grown up…”
“When we retire…”
These last three months brought home front and center how true is the axiom, “Wherever you go, there you are.”
Life is solely in the immediate, only where we plant our feet and nowhere else. It is essential that we assume that right now, these precious moments ticking away, are as good as it’s going to get and equally imperative we celebrate without abandon every second we are fortunate enough to inhale. Should tomorrow dawn, we accept the gift of repeating the process. Yet, should this be the end, we passed without regret.
For better or worse, ‘till death do you part, do you take Today to be the finest day of your life? Do you commit to live completely and without resentment, in the now, savoring each instant, embracing what is – and not delaying for another what might be? Do you promise to give your soul and your heart freely to this moment for as long as it shall exist?”
I now pronounce you person and life.