Thursday, November 24, 2011


Yesterday, while running, I cried.

Well, I didn't cry, exactly. I wasn't out-and-out sobbing. But I got choked up, which sometimes happens when I'm running and the beauty of the moment strikes me. I wrote about this phenomenon already -- I'm sure endorphins are partly to blame.

I was running on Ladbroke Grove. The sun was shining from a grayish steely sky, flashing through the girders of the bridge over the train tracks to Paddington. I was passing the graffiti-splashed walls of the bridge, then the huge council blocks near the end of Portobello Road, then elegant Edwardian row houses. It just struck me that I was running in London, where I now live, and I was feeling strong and healthy and just so incredibly lucky.

I have been amazingly fortunate in my life. I hesitate to even talk about it, for fear of tempting fate. But seriously -- I've lived with Berbers in Morocco, I've walked the beaches in Madagascar, I've explored Dogon cliff villages in Mali, I've listened to howling hyenas while sleeping in a tent in Botswana. I've run the Washington D.C. mall, and the Stars Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. I've been to the Taj Mahal and to Stonehenge, and to Italy, Germany, Austria, Iceland, France, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Spain. I've seen Victoria Falls and Niagara Falls. I've seen the Aurora Australis in New Zealand and glaciers in Canada. I got to spend ten years living in Manhattan, and now I'm living here.

All of it, every last moment, is more than I ever dared to expect when I was growing up in Florida. I used to dream about traveling to the exotic places illustrated in my stamp collection, but I never expected those dreams to come true.

Of course, some would say it's come at a cost. I have no children, and many people count their children as their greatest joy. But I never felt any paternal instinct whatsoever, so for me, that's a fair trade.

I am so thankful for my experiences -- not to mention all the everyday beauty of the world, the health that allows me to walk or run for miles, the opportunity to write and practice photography and Zen, for my wonderful, patient partner and my decrepit dogs. I'm thankful for my family, and the fact that we generally have good relationships and aren't like those families I occasionally read about in the newspaper, where parents are selling their children for drugs, or siblings are drinking too much and beating each other up on the front lawn.

Thanksgiving isn't much of a thing in England, from what I can tell. But Dave and I will celebrate today with a special meal (grouse!) and some together time with Ernie and Ruby. Here's hoping that all my readers -- those who celebrate it, at least -- have a happy Thanksgiving as well! And as the old folks used to say, count your blessings!

(Photos: A tree in our courtyard has carpeted the grass with red-gold leaves. I have no idea what kind it is. A few blocks away a row of them has been planted along the street, and the colors are pretty impressive!)


Elizabeth said...

Happy Thanksgiving and may your many blessings continue! I have so enjoyed getting to know you a bit through your blog and look forward to continued reading!

Barbara said...

I am feeling very grateful just coming from a 2-hour yoga class. It taxed my abilities, but it was a great entree to this food-filled holiday.

You are so lucky for all the reasons you mentioned. I hope your luck holds for a long, long time.

Happy Thanksgiving to the 4 of you. I'm sure your grouse will surpass our turkey!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

beautiful post.

happy thanksgiving to you and your family of creation - dave and ernie & ruby - in my world, as i know in yours, animals count!

may you continue to walk and run in beauty xxxxxkim

e said...

I can only echo what others have said. As someone who has seen you mature, you are a wonderful man and a good person. You are also a loving uncle and brother and someone your friends and family appreciate.I look forward to more of your adventures in London.

Lorianne said...

I find myself crying the same kind of tears all the time when I'm walking Reggie, or when I'm driving to or from school. I can't really blame endorphins in either case; instead, I think it's just the opportunity for introspection that arises when you're doing a repetitive, "mindless" task that gives you time to reflect on where you are and what you have. It's not exactly "counting blessings": it's just a realization of how beautifully fragile life is.

Kathleen Botsford said...

Wow. Love this post. Life is wonderful even if we do have to make choices along the way. Your choices sound absolutely magical. Can't wait to have the time to read thru more. Who needs movies and books when we have real-life heros writing fabulous adventure stories right here in our own living rooms??? Thank you!!