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November 14, 2006



This reminds me of an encounter I had with an older man of 85 years, Frank, this past Sunday when I was hiking up Pine Cobble. He had sat down to rest while his grandson ("who's only in his 50s") was making his way up to the summit. We talked about the weather and then of course about the value of hiking and experienceing nature. When he hits 90, he said, he wants to "live like Thoreau for two years." "You can live on what's here, what's around you. Take some grass, boil it, and there you have a drink that has more nutrients than anything you could buy in the store!" "I don't mind being alone, so I think I'd enjoy it." He had an accent I couldn't quite place, and it didn't make sense when he said he was from Quincy, MA. Later on, though, he mentioned that he had lived around the moutains all his life, having been born and raised in the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. We got to talking about how life is different in the outdoors. "Where's our society going? Everyone's just killing each other!"--"Yeah, like we're all trampling over one another." And so of course we got to talking about politics, government, war, life, and death. "Life is too short."--"Oh yeah, too short to be spending it in another country, killing someone's relatives." Through our talk of crooked politicians and lawyerism, we wondered what my generation would do. Like anyone talking with someone who's not lived through as much as them, Frank couldn't help but give his advice: "Do what you want to do. Don't let anyone else tell you what to do with your life. If you want to be a hermit, be a hermit." We shook hands and parted ways. I love being on top of a mountain because it makes all the buildings and cars look so small, young, and insignificant. When you're up there, you look at the mountains and listen to them talk about the age of the Earth. And that's why I love talking to people like Frank. They remind me of mountains.

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