Imagine this: You’re out in the country, driving across a rolling and open landscape that could be anywhere. This evening, however, you are somewhere on the western side of Mid-America, the vastness draped between the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Appalachians to the east.
It’s evening, the sun poised to dip below the horizon. It’s such an impressive sight that as you approach the top of a long hill, you pull off on the side of the gravel road, turn off the engine, get out, and lean against the front fender, hands relaxed in jean pockets, and legs crossed.
No matter where you look, your gaze is rewarded with a quiet softness. Most of the bugs have found a place to spend the night. The birds are taking their last flights of the day. Other animals are making their habitats ready for sleep.
In the plant kingdom, petals and blossoms have already curled up and closed. Grass with long stems topped with seeds stand upright after a day of bowing to the brisk wind. The few trees remind you of sentinels ready to witness a possible storm as it sweeps across the prairie during the night.
You take it all in, feeling as if you are a visitor, noticing little things you often pass by without giving them even a first glance. What strikes you now is how logical and orderly all of it is.
Suddenly, you hear the sound of a car, distant at first, then closer. The driver waves as he passes, kicking up whirls of dust that hang in the air over the road before drifting into a nearby field.
By then, the sun has all but disappeared, leaving behind a subdued and soothing kind of light dimly outlining a distant cluster of farm buildings. Already, some wisps of fog are in low places.
You shift position, lean back, and look up. The brightest star is barely visible but many soon will be. You imagine what the sky would look like if you were to stay long enough. Here, deep into the night and far from city lights, the Milky Way would appear as if it were a million diamonds scattered in a band arched above and extending downward in opposite directions to the horizon.
Until now, you’ve been aware of a literal scene not dominated by any strong feature, but several that have combined to create a feeling all its own, whispering sweet nothings to sooth whatever is inside of you needing attention.
That’s when you realize that within the last few minutes, you’ve been willing to leave your irreversible past behind. Far better, you reason, is to embrace the present with its feelings of serenity and security.
Along with the magic of the moment, however, comes an awakening. You find yourself now appreciating not just one but rather all three of the dimensions — past, present, and future — through which everyone must pass.
Of those, your future excites you the most. Despite what you will be asking of it, the quest no longer feels threatening or overwhelming. If anything, the future invites you to continue the trip, guided by what you’ve already learned and excited by what there is yet for you to discover and experience.
Beginning now and regardless of what or where you are, will you treat every day in similar fashion?
Of course you will. It won’t be easy or happen quickly, two factors not part of the question, nor should they be, not when you’re making plans, not when you believe you’ve found a most interesting yet rewarding way to keep walking through life.
You stand upright, breathe deeply, take one last lingering look at the scene, then get into your car and drive away.
You’ve just found a better way for moving through life. Maybe no one else will care, much less understand, but you will . . . .
. . . . and that’s all that counts.