There have been many thrilling days in my life. When I was young, I watched my babies breathe in and out as they lay asleep, and felt the grasp of their tiny hands around my fingers. Each of their achievements–from taking their first steps to bringing home their first paycheck–made my heart sing with joy. After my babies had flown the coop, I was free to chase other thrills, like rafting the Grand Canyon and jumping out of an airplane. It would not be unfair to say that I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie.
But when I took my dog, Maggie, on her walk this morning, I felt more alive than I think I have ever felt before.
The sky was full of puffy rose and lavender tinted clouds that let me know the sun had risen even if it wasn’t visible this overcast day. A cool breeze stirred the hair on my bare arms, but I wasn’t cold. The caress on my skin felt like a gentle lover’s touch, one I never wanted to stop.
I wasn’t alone in my enjoyment of the moment. The coolness gave Maggie, now 13, a briskness to her steps that, like mine, have begun to slow. She walked with ears flapping in the wind, and her short cocker-spaniel tail, straight up, a signal to the world that she’s in charge.
I was vividly aware of everything around me, the cedar waxwings crowding the leafless branches of an oak tree, the straining purple buds on a huge cactus in a mailbox planter, the eyes of a deer staring at me as I approached, and dandelions invading lawns to announce that spring was coming.
In my younger days, I would have probably only seen the deer, and even then would not have taken the time to look into its eyes and make the connection I did this day.
You won’t hear me join those who bemoan the wrinkles time has put on their faces, or what the years have taken from them. No. I have nary a complaint.
With age has come acceptance of myself, deeper understanding of how the world works, and the wisdom to know that the little things in life can be as thrilling as getting to the top of the mountain.
This morning’s simple walk left me with an inner peace greater than I’ve ever felt before, making today one of the best days of my life. I noted exactly that in my journal.
Pat Bean is a former journalist who has been traveling the country in an RV with her canine companion, Maggie, for seven years now. She is writing a travel book, and blogs daily about her travel adventures.