Canon 1: Motion Creates Emotion
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En route we befriended Holly, a Welsh woman who was clearly oblivious to stress’s beck and call. We joined her for fifteen miles atop the long, curving ridge boundary of Brecon Beacons National Park. At dusk the three of us spotted an elderly lady and her beagle hiking toward us. Teetering along on a walking stick, she wore a motoring cap and clutched a bunch of wildflowers. I said hello and asked her where she was going. She replied in Welsh, “Rydw i yma yn barod.” We looked to Holly for a translation.
“She said, ‘I’m already there, I’m already there.’ ”
They continued their placid conversation in Welsh until the old women moved on. As she faded into the distance, I declared my envy for her philosophy. “Let’s catch up with her,” I said. “There’s something else I’d like to ask.” We spun around and caught up with her. She walked a few more steps along the trail, traded her flowers into the other hand, and raised an eyebrow. We scrutinized each other for a moment, beings from different eras and opposite sides of an ocean. I marveled at her vibrancy; she contemplated our shift in direction.
Holly translated my question, “What’s the secret to a long and happy life?”
She directed her answer to Holly. “Moments.”
There was a quiet pause. Then the old woman smiled, squinted at my father, and spoke slowly, “Moments . . . moments are all we get. A true walker understands this.”
Moments. Yes. A year before this trek, I got the news that my father was seriously ill. A long moment, that. No more walks, no more calls, no more . . . moments. No more golden sunsets concluding a day of long-distance hiking. Well, he was seventy. But a moment is all it takes to change your direction, take a single step, then another. Soon the distance is met. My dad endured an open-heart bypass and back surgery. Miraculously, one year later we’re savoring Celtic wisdom.
After a silent, timeless minute, we all clutched hands with the old woman, hugged, and waved good-bye. Just before she faded into the horizon, I looked back at her, plodding on with eternal poise and bearing. I sent a smile to my father. She’s right - that is all we get.
Try to keep your mind as open as the road, and good things are sure to follow. -Jorma Kaukonen