The afternoon of our final day together, sister Katherine and I decided to take a final long walk. (What else? We’ve all been walkers all our lives, some of us more than others, but not a one who doesn’t appreciate this way of moving through life).
And, once on a road, I looked up, and of course, saw another hill I would like to climb. Kath followed gamely for awhile, until the slippery soles of her sandals decided to turn her around. Here’s the view from part-way up, Kath the tiny dot in red below.
Further up, and the ski runs of Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain come into view.
This was actually the first time during my five week trip that I actually managed to climb to the very top of the designated hill. But then, guess what? It wasn’t the top! Further tops loomed beyond.
A good lesson. No matter where I am, no matter what “goal” I have managed to reach, there are always more, “higher” ones.
I did know that. Of course I knew that. And, it’s good to be reminded.
So I “came down off the mountain” and Kath and I continued on that road, dotted with the usual Sun Valley sprawling, splendiferous homes of the 1%. I don’t take pictures of such, as there are plenty in Real Estate magazines of the area. Multimillion dollar homes, of course. (Those that don’t mention the price, and where signs might say “principals only,” are the most expensive, “exclusive.”)
But then, this strange scene, which not only made me pause, but made me take a picture.
Yep, it looks like a bunker, to survive the apocalypse. You can’t see it, but there’s a phone by one of the doors. The other door could open for a vehicle. Further back on the hill, discrete little pipes stick up. Wonder how big the bunker is. What kind of guns do they stock and how many? How many people will fit into it? Who will they leave out of their family and friends? Who might try to storm it?
Kath and I started to go back. Decided to get off that ghoulish aspect of our current cultural dystopian imagination(?) and deal with another Sun Valley special: Kath’s Vuarnet sunglasses, which, she tells me, were all the rage back in the ’50s.
(I didn’t notice.) She got them from Amazon, and the guy shipped them from Israel! — and they cost I think she said, $200. “I ordered them, just trusted the seller!” She shakes her head, wondering how she dared. I shake my head too. “What? That much??!” “But they are worth much more!” she exclaimed. She then told me of going into one of the exclusive Sun Valley stores, and the clerk noticed her glasses, said he couldn’t get Vuarnets to sell anymore, and how did she get them?
At her urging, I tried the glasses on. They do lend the entire world a warm, honeyed glow.
That evening, the family “remnant” (down to six of us by this time) gathered for our final meal, an enormous feast of leftovers. As usual, we all flowed easily in the kitchen, cooking, cleaning, and so on. We’re so attuned to each other on the level of dailiness, that we hardly even have to speak. The “work” just gets done. Easy and fun.
In the morning, I hitch a ride with John C. to the Boise airport in his rental car.
And that’s where the real story of this post begins. The one I want to tell. For what should have been a “grueling ordeal” was actually an amazing exercise in the value and implications of “remaining in the present moment.”
Here’s what should have been grueling:
I had booked my flight for 7 p.m., since when I made my travel arrangements, I knew I would be first hitching from Sun Valley to Boise with John (a three hour trip), but: he hadn’t yet made his flight plans. So, as not to inconvenience him, I made sure that my flight would be later than his.
But: in order to fly to Indy from Boise at that hour, and at a decent price, I would have to route through Seattle (go west to go east . . .) Then wait there for a flight to Detroit at 10:30 p.m. (the Red Eye flight), to arrive at 5:22 AM EDT, and wait for flight to Indy at 8:10 AM, to arrive at 9:30 A.M.
Even before we got to the airport I had separated the trip into eight segments in my mind, starting at 10 A.M. on that day and ending at 11 A.M. (with confusing time changes) the next day. Nearly 24 hours, approximately like this.
Drive to Boise, 3 hours.
Boise airport, 6 hours.
Seattle flight, 1.5 hours.
Seattle airport, 3 hours.
Detroit flight, 4 hours.
Detroit airport, 3 hours.
Indy flight, 1.5 hours.
Drive home, 1 hour.
In the olden days I would have despised this schedule, reached and remained in a state of fury and frustration throughout the entire ordeal.
But not this time. Instead, I appreciated the fullness inside each segment, and found myself in an extended “present moment” that lasted the length of that particular segment.
On my way home, I counted segments. Gee whiz, I’m already in segment 3, etc. Not only was the experience not grueling, it was actually fun, and decidedly instructive, especially when I realized, both during and afterwards, that despite garnering only maybe 1.5 hours of cat naps altogether during the entire process, I was not nearly as exhausted as I expected to be. Which makes me realize: what makes me exhausted is the tension I hold against the present moment. And further, makes me wonder: What would happen if I truly did move into and remain in the present moment, continuously. Would I even need to sleep?