At Lower Heights

In another life I was a mountaintop teller of tall tales. I sat on the wraparound porch of a small cabin and looked through the trees to see a stream sparkle at sunset and sipped from a mug. Only those that wanted to listen sat on the porch, and we all took turns talking. At night we closed our eyes for peaceful rest, oblivious to the demands of the coming day.

Air is cleaner a thousand feet high. There are no calendars to sync, no phone calls to return, and no follow-ups to meeting objectives. Trees do not care about deadlines. My blood pressure lowers from better breathing and thirty floors of elevation change. I feel less stress just by walking. It is a simple trick, but unexercised.

The surreality of a town like Eureka Springs is not far-fetched. I have seen it in other forms: Thomas, West Virginia. Snowshoe Mountain. Coeur d’Alene. What makes all of those places unique to our daily travels: people seem to be doing what matters to them. This is not to suggest that we do not do that at lower heights, but if we do, we do so inconsistently. In such cases, nature bests nurture.

I am twenty feet in the air as I write this. Earlier this morning I stared at the back porch for a minute or two as I stood at the kitchen sink, but the sun was moving and the coming shade would have decreased productivity. Even now, I am wandering in and out of characters and settings. I am not there yet, but I will be. It can take a long time to awaken habits.

Last weekend was an important small victory in reminding us how easily we can reframe. I never could work for the weekend; it always seemed like a pop-up book of surprises that somehow stole all of that free time, and the promised land of rest and focus never materialized.

We will be in the mountains again soon.



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