Pinch of Salt Graphic (English)

It all depends on how you look at things.

That's the big It, as in the meaning and purpose of life. Most of the time, we blithely trundle through, living minute by minute and day by day, not really thinking about it. Life's sort of like breathing that way.

But every once in a while, something comes up that makes us pause. And if things are in proper alignment, that pause might offer a little insight.

Those moments are far too few and far between for me. I'm mostly going 70 miles an hour, trying to complete what I think my responsibilities are at work, in the community, at home.

Wife Maria's biggest complaint about me (at least I think it's the biggest) is that I refuse to sit down and do nothing for more than a couple of minutes. I'm just not wired that way.

I have been known, though, to create situations where I have little choice. That requires a place where I can't get email on my phone, where I'm not expected to interact with people, where I'm not focused on accomplishing a task.

It doesn't mean I have to sit in a yoga position, or be motionless at all. It doesn't even mean I have to be alone, although I admit that helps.

I created such a situation last weekend. I took Friday off, so it was a full vacation. And we headed for the hills.

We included Maria and her sister, Dorothy. The hills were the north fork of the Kern River, in Sequoia National Forest.

Why that was the destination is a long and convoluted story you don't need to sit through. Suffice it to say that we were in a cabin less than 100 yards from the river for two nights.

The cabin had no television, and the cell phones had no service. There were people around, but they seemed to know when to say hi and when to leave me be.

Those who know me know I've spent considerable time in the mountains, primarily in Colorado. I fancy myself a bit of a fisherman, so I had a built-in activity to keep the nervous energy to a minimum.

There are few more peaceful places in the world than standing on the bank of a mountain river, watching the water flow, listening to the babble of baby rapids. I got to stand there and watch the sun rise over the hill two days in a row.

In a canyon, it takes almost an hour for the sun to rise. I watched the line of light march down the mountain at my back, getting slowly closer to the canyon floor, where I and my river waited.

If that doesn't cause a meditation on the grandeur of God's creation, I'm not sure what would.

Oh, and yes, I caught a fish. A couple, in fact. I'll eat that trout and think of how many of its species have sustained me in my earlier years.

But wait, there's more.

About 20 miles from our spot on the Kern, there's a place called the Trail of 100 Giants. Remember, this is the Sequoia National Forest.

This grove of Sequoias is far from the beaten path, but is well taken care of — and pretty popular, at least on a fall weekend.

Still, standing in the giants' presence is an awe-inspiring experience. Looking straight up a tree 300 feet tall, with a trunk more than six feet in diameter, really does change your perspective.

I refuse to call myself, or people in general, inconsequential. But I will say the visit with the giants gives me a little better handle on my place in the scheme of things, a new sense of where my priorities really should be.

There is a vast creation out there, and I'm blessed to be a very, very small part of it. I'll keep doing, and keep trying because that's the only thing I know to do.

And I pray the next time I think I'm really important, or that my task is world-shattering, I'll remember those trees, those sunrises, and change my perspective.

Thank You for the reminder.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

Load comments