How was your summer? Was it a long hot one? In Wisconsin it was definitely a long hot summer. This summer I turned 62 and I grappled with that birthday. It’s hard to believe I’m 62 and yet I am well aware that I have been around for 62 years. It’s been a wild ride these 62 years. Lots of experiences. Some good. Some not so good. Some really fantastic and some down right awful. It is these experiences that I think is the stuff of life. I even came up with a little “saying” for lack of a better word to help remind me about what is important. The living of life not acquiring things. The saying goes like this:
Collect Experiences Not Things.
Actually when I did a Google search on that saying I discovered that it was not an original idea at all. Such is life. Anyway, I believe that it is experiences that can never be taken away. Unless of course the great cosmic design has Alzheimer or some other brain/memory disorder written in the cards. But for now, while I am still vibrant, I am on a quest to collect experiences.
Right now at this point in my life I am collecting many experiences taking care of our little 2-year-old grandson, in addition to experiences with other members of our family With Gavin, however, I am with him at least 34 hours a week which allows for a lot of experience collecting. He is one darling little boy who is showing me what it means to meet life with exuberance and joy. He teaches me about trust and openness.
Our house is full but not just with our grandson. We also have Angie and Susie our dog and cat. However, I got a wild notion one day that I would like to have another dog. Seems I thought there was room for one more, like our house need more life.
I mentioned to my husband Mike my thought about another dog and he said, “yeah, sure” but he didn’t know I was seriously considering it, like right this very minute. Once he said, “sounds good” I immediately looked at a couple of humane society web sites. I had a specific idea of what I was looking for. I wanted a dog smaller than Angie, our chocolate lab/pit bull/Rhodesian ridge-back etc mix. Although Angie’s hair is short she sure can shed. I wanted a dog that didn’t shed. So smaller, less hair.
I found many dogs like that on the web sites but they were mostly males which I never wanted because of an experience I had when I was around 12 with a girlfriends male dog going at it on my leg. It was a mortifying experience and so I stayed away from male dogs. In addition, the humane societies were asking hundreds of dollars to adopt a pet. I wanted a dog but I didn’t want to shell out that kind of money. So, I said to the universe that I would be open and wait and see what comes my way. Angie came into our lives as a stray running loose in the small town we lived in at the time. That was six years ago. I thought maybe another dog would come into my life in a similar fashion. I didn’t have to wait long.
On July 22 days before my 62 birthday, Dean-o, a little Italian Greyhound/Whippet mix showed up. It’s kind of an interesting story. I’ll save that for another time. Right now I am talking about experiences and how they are the stuff of life. And so…
I realized that it is through experiences that I feel truly alive. Well, that and being foolish a sentiment I articulated in the quote below and wrote about in my post Foolishness means Aliveness:
To Be Foolish Means To Truly Be Alive.
What I mean by surrendering to what I perceive is my foolishness is that I am able to fully engage in an experience. On the big plus side if you spend my life collecting experiences I won’t need a big house or storage facility to store them. And many experience are basically free.
Okay, so there I was back in July turning 62 and adopting a new dog which brought me a whole set of experiences in itself, yet feeling how can I get more out of life? How can I get more out of life on a limited budget? Suddenly an idea just showed up for me to find, just like little Dean-o, the Italian Greyhound/Whippet mix, which I can’t wait to tell you about in a later post.
I took Angie, our resident dog and Dean-o, the new little guy, to Kettle Moraine State Forest for a hike. It seems Dean-o needs plenty of time and space to run. On this day, in late July, the dogs and I went to hike the trails of the Southern unit of Kettle Moraine. I wrote about these trails in January in my post Peacefully Coexist. In this forest there is the red trail and the blue trail and the green trail.
But there is also the yellow trail which is the Ice Age Trail. It’s more rugged and less traveled than the regular hiking trails because it was built and is maintained entirely by volunteers. Because there were others out on the trails that day I veered off the regular hiking trails and took the ice age trail.
It was a great hike that day. I totally enjoyed nature and the solitude. I fell in love with the ice age trail. I was hooked. I wanted more. Seemed to me I remembered seeing on the internet that the ice age alliance published maps the trail. Before I left that day I stopped in at the ranger station and purchased a loose leaf binder with all the maps of the 1000 mile trail winding through Wisconsin. My goal, to eventually walk the whole thing albeit in increments. That is what I have been doing once a week since July 30. So far I hiked 52 miles of the trail. I feel pretty good about it.
Yet… I have felt foolish. Foolish because I was doing it by myself, cept the dogs of course, with myself and for myself. This to me feels like utter selfishness and foolishness. However, while I am hiking, I allow myself to surrender to the experience. I bring snacks and water and a camera. I feel so totally peaceful and serene out there on the trail. However, if I gave into my feeling being foolish I probably would have abandoned the whole thing. I haven’t done that. Instead I surrendered to foolishness; I’m collecting my experiences and feel truly alive.
So here is my crone wisdom pearl: collect experiences and share them with others. Whether they be joyful or not. It is the experiences that make up who we are. Our individual experiences are our story. Sharing your experiences/ story with others can not help but breed compassion, understanding and a sense of belonging. What do you think?