Monday, August 13, 2007

Goodwill Toward All

Half an hour into my trip, I was still marvelling over the wonder that is the automobile and, in particular, that I have one and with it the ability to roam. I drove for four hours until I reached a beautiful little cabin in a picturesque meadow surrounded by trees and grass and streams. The air was thin and clear. I was greeted by the yapping of a little dog answering to the name of Lacey. More importantly, my wonderful friend Jen was there with her parents, her cousin, and her grandparents, whom I met last year when I went up to the same cabin.

We had a couple hours in which we took the horses on a walk just to stretch their legs- and mine. We ate. We planned. We changed our clothes and saddled the horses. Then Jen, her mom, and I went on a ride. It was short by their standards- a mere 12 miles. Barely enough to break a sweat. The day was beautiful. The sky was a pale blue. The sun shone through the thin atmosphere with an intesity to burn the skin but a temperature that was deceptively cool. Wind, just enough to tease the imagination, stirred the trees on either side of us. The roads and trails we took were varied enough that we had to switch often from walking to trotting and back again, and a couple times we were able to canter. My horse, Bolero, was a good old boy. He was twenty years old and had a lot of experience with trails, trail rides, and feats of endurance. He also knew the minute we turned back to go home. He suddenly got very excited about moving and fought with me almost the whole way home. Since the other two horses were spooking about every log laying on the ground, Bolero and I took the lead for much of the way home. It was wonderful fun.

Of course, with my riding experience for the last few years being limited to mostly an arena, I was not in shape for such a ride. My knees began to ache halfway through, and when I dismounted I almost fell. Well, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but it was awhile before I could walk completely normally again. My abs hurt. My back hurt. My shoulders hurt. I was dead tired. Fortunately, there wasn't much to do there. We did the chores. I showered and ate. We all read a little bit by the light of gas lanterns, and then I slept. There was no tv. There was no phone. There was no electricity except what we brought that was battery-powered. I had left my music in my car, and was unencumbered by the continuous stream of information into my weary brain. That night, I slept well, but was still stiff when I awoke.

The next day was Sunday. We went to Church in a cute little church building that was a twenty minute drive from the cabin. My mind was open and ready to learn new ideas. We benefitted in Sacrament Meeting and Relief Society from the words and experiences and spirits of all different age groups. An eight-year-old sang the most beautiful song about Christ's baptism that brought tears to my eyes in Sacrament Meeting. Relief Society was shaped by the wisdom of women that have raised families of their own and are now able to help their own children and us of the younger generation in raising their families. I remembered how much I love and revere lives fully lived and minds that have seen and done much.

The rest of the afternooon was occupied with quiet reading, sleeping, and walking outside enjoying the magnificent beauty God has shared with us. Of course we brought some of the bustle of the city with us, but there nature is so much bigger than we are. It engulfs us, slows us down, and helps us remember how to breathe, how to think, how to feel.

Sunset found me and Jen out on the back porch, sitting stock still, taking turns holding our fingers under one of the bird feeders. The hummingbirds there are so brave they would come and sit on our fingers while they drank the nectar. There is nothing quite like the feel of their tiny feet on your skin and being able to watch their feathers glinting in the sunlight. Their tongues are so small, and they move so fast! They are remarkable little birds.

That evening we played a rousing game of Aggravation which, up there, had the feel of an epic, if friendly, battle between the forces of Red, Green, Blue and Yellow. We played on teams. Jen's grandparents beat us, but it was a close call. For awhile, we were all sure Jen and I would win. Alas, such was not to be!

With my muscles calmer from a day of quiet activity, I slept very well that night. The next day, work called me back to civilization and I had to leave fairly early. I had ripped my pants when I rode Bolero, so I drove back in my skirt from Sunday. I hadn't showered in two days, but somehow I wasn't terribly worried about the smell. After all, I would be spending four hours in a car with no air conditioning and worrying about the smell I would produce would do me no good whatsoever. Sadly, halfway down the mountain I looked out my rearview mirror and noticed suspicious fumes coming from the back of my car. I also noticed that the Check Engine Light had come on, and I smelled burnt rubber coming from something. I have virtually no mechanical skills myself. I get this from my dad who, once, when his car broke down, lifted the hood and, when he saw the engine was still there, decided everything was okay. Apparently the power of suggestion worked for him, because he started the car just fine and drove down the road.

At just over a quarter of a tank, I decided I needed to get gas and check the oil, as this is the extent of my own skill with the inner workings of the wonder that is the automobile. I made an interesting picture, I'm sure, with my purple skirt blowing in the wind as I did my best not to pour oil all over the engine while trying to get it into the little hole into which it belonged. Just then, I heard a wonderful sound. "Do you need help?" I turned and, lo and behold, it was a man dressed in the characteristic jumper of a mechanic. He looked in the engine, and under it, and smelled the fluids that were draining onto the hot concrete. He had me pull up to the shop where he worked where he jacked up my car and climbed underneath it. I prayed he would have the inspiration to be able to fix the problem enough for me to get home. He did. It turns out that my main problem was just a few bolts that were suspiciously loose and needed to be tightened. This would prevent the oil and transmission fluid from leaking so badly and spraying onto the rest of the car, which then burnt off the offending liquid and smelled like burning rubber. He didn't charge me anything and was so nice about it all, notwithstanding my almost complete ignorance. His act of kindness saved me much worry and inner turmoil. All I know about him is that his name is Casey and that he has a kind heart, skill with a car, and he's not going to school right now. I wish him all the best and hope that all those he comes in contact with take with them a smile and goodwill toward all those with whom we share this world.

Upon arriving home, I took a shower, then bought myself some new pants and food to last me a week. I watched some tv and noticed how much it affected my thoughts and my mood. No wonder I can't calm down. Flashes of light and sound move by so quickly there is no time to think- only to absorb. I went to FHE, then got rid of my tv. I don't need that in my life, for the most part. Of course, I promptly turned to my computer which is blaring country music into my ears and from which I can access any information I may desire. Quite soon I will probably be acquiring a cell phone. I already rue the day, but have decided that in this particular society it is almost a necessecity. I live in the society, and to do so is my choice. I do so with full purpose of heart and mind. I do love people, and will give in the best ways I know how. One of those ways is to be accessible for those who need me. Very well, I accept that, and do so gladly. In many ways I would be lost without it.

But there is a part of me that longs for the peace and tranquility and hugeness of the mountains, of the sea, of the sky, of a flower, a hive of bees, of a bird sitting on your finger, of being able to see the stars at night and the clear blue sky during the day. There is nothing in the business and the biggness and the structure of civilization that can quite compare with the feeling of standing in the middle of an open field with the wind blowing your hair and the sun on your face and the smell of pine in your nose and letting yourself just feel the moment that has been thousands of years in the making, and knowing that, in letting your thoughts slide away, you are opening the door to inspiration from the Great Creator of all.