Chapter One: Be Silent and Still

I arrived in Tahoe for good on Sunday after three days of driving my Chevy Impala, Judy Densch. That girl worked up the mountains, through Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, weighed down with two bikes and my entire closet. Oatmeal did great on the road and even got used to hopping around in his cat carrier. And when I arrived here, this second home of mine, everything obviously changed.

It was in Eagle Falls yesterday, staring into the running water over a cliff, that I realized how quiet I've been. With every change in my life, there has been a period of intense deconstruction, immense personal reflection and incessant chatter about all of that. Here is so much different in so many ways. For the first time in maybe forever, there is nothing to figure out. There is no emotion to unpack and repack and look at in all different directions. There isn't a sea of faces to impress or hide from. People are generally content, always smiling, and small talk is just a way to get to know each other. The weather is kind and beautiful and there are mountains in every direction to explore. It is quiet. And I am, in every way, quieter.

I wouldn't use the term happy to describe my life here: it's better. I just feel content. And looking back on my old life, I've realized now that I was just existing, but not really living. Everything was done to make money in order to buy things and pay bills. That was my focus. And although that's a necessity, it's not my whole life. People don't lead in with, "Hi I'm Sam, I'm a teacher, what do you do?" because their job isn't their identity. People take care of themselves and the rest follows. It's really a beautiful way to live.

I'm really not concerned with a job. Tahoe problems are like, Man there are so many hiking options, which one should I choose? Or, should I go swimming first or ride my bike first? Or if I buy a truck I will probably have to get a dog to ride in the back...and then you're so fulfilled with your life that your nerves aren't noodle-y and you talk to strangers like they're old friends. I met a girl named Abby at dinner who went to Northview and she helps adults with disabilities find jobs and her company is hiring....and then I got to talking to Brian at the hardware store who just happens to be from Kalamazoo, Michigan and tells me the perfect drives to take in fall that will remind us of back home fall, but better. And then I come home with my husband and feed Oatmeal spinach and fall asleep together, and wake up together, and eat dinner together, and no wonder all of my empty hollow places have been filled. This is the life I dreamed about and made happen and this is what it feels like to get exactly what you want.

And I'm going to preserve this feeling. Here's how:
1.) Whenever I'm in that moment where time doesn't seem important and I'm incredibly in love with everything around me (which has been 97% of my time here so far), I'm not going to question it or try to figure it out. I'm just going to be quiet and let it happen and ride it as far as it goes. I'm going to live in that moment for as long as the universe allows and I'm going to let it be.

2.) Whenever I'm in that moment where life is hard and things aren't good, I'm going to learn from it and move on. That's it. The end. I'm not going to live in it, I'm not going to try and figure it out. I'm just going to let it be and go for a hike.

3.) Whenever I'm starting to be critical of myself, my appearance, others behavior, others appearances, I'm going to stop and look around. I'm going to resist the urge to make myself and others perfect because it's destructive and leads to nothing positive. I'm going to love myself and take care of myself and do the same for others, even when they don't deserve it.

And in the meantime and in all the in-betweens, I'm going to be grateful for this life because it's better than I could've ever imagined......