I know how strange this probably sounds, but I truly believe that I have recently discovered life on a planet. I really have. I’m not exaggerating, lying, fibbing, or fantasizing. The fact that the planet I recently discovered life on happens to be the one you live on, does not make the discovery untrue… at least it doesn’t for me. You see, I feel that I have recently become more aware, and much more appreciative of all of the life that is around me. Perhaps this has something to do with my slowly, relentlessly, advancing age. I’m not sure, and I’m not sure if I care. I do believe that older people seem to appreciate the day, the hour, the present moment more than most younger folks do. Younger people are far too busy in the business of being in business, or of being in love, or being preoccupied with themselves and of their own personal comforts to truly discover life. Not so, for most older folks.
In my youth, or more in the period of my life from true youth to semi-youth and on to middle age, I managed a fairly large retail business. This business managing actually lasted for twenty five years or so, and I, therefore, spent most of my weeks, and months, and years inside a building. I saw the sun… but mostly on Sunday, until stores began being open on Sunday. Then I saw the sun… less.
I think that my eyes began to be opened more to the life that is all around me on this green world, after leaving those buildings, the sixty-hour-a-work-week world. I think that the realization that, looking down the road, I had many fewer days ahead than in the rear view mirror also had much to do with this discovery of life. I think I might not be alone in this feeling. You readers of my age might agree.
Speaking of looking down the road, my youngest daughter, my wife and I did a lot of that just last week, as we transported Emily to her first year of college, in the deep south. The trip to Georgia was a really good one, and, although we had traveled old route 95 many times in years past, both the immensity of our country, and the abundant life it holds struck me more on this trip than perhaps during any other. This time of the year, green is everywhere, even here in the North, but, seemingly, more so the further you submerge yourself into the deep South. Everything, simply everything down there is very much alive. The beautiful, but sometimes unwelcome Spanish moss laces the trees; an example of life building and literally living on top of and because of other life. The woods, the towns and even the cities in the South are teeming with every form of vegetation imaginable; insects, animals and humans dwell, and thrive, within it all.
Since childhood I have been very interested in our country’s space program. (Yes, there was a space program when I was a child.) I watched men walk on the moon, (yes, they really did do that) and I have been watching, more recently, NASA’s Mars rovers, as they trek across the surface of the red planet. Those rovers and the scientists who sent them just amaze me, as the machines struggle on that lonely world, and the scientists study the data, in an effort to find life… ANY life. I have often wondered at what effect such a finding by one of those machines from earth would have on the inhabitants of our world. Just catching a glimpse of a tiny shoot of a plant, much less some mouse-like creature scurrying across the video screens at NASA, would be the event of the century, or of several centuries, for our entire world. If a giraffe happened to walk in front of the camera, just think what would happen then. But, so far… no martian giraffes have shown themselves.
What a contrast. On our world giraffes are not common in most places, but they are here, and we are not really amazed by them, even if we should be. And life, in all its glory, is, literally, all around us. Our planet has been blessed with it, in abundance. In fact, as much as I would love to believe that the entire universe is just as blessed with life, so far there is not one bit of evidence to prove that it is. Our world may be as common as a blade of grass in a field of billions, or as rare as a blade of grass on Mars. In any case, I wish you would just look around you, and take the time to see, and to appreciate, what is here. It is life, and it is truly amazing.
“George’s World,” a new 740-page collection of George’s columns from The World, is available at xlibris.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and your favorite bookstore. “The Smoke And Mirrors Effect,” George’s first novel, can be seen at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Happy Reading!