Wilderness

 

The path gave way underneath my feet. The ground was soft…thawing from winter and IMG_9372still wet from the recent rain and snow. I glanced back behind me to see the imprints of my boots on the trail. My father’s words hung in my mind….

“Why are you looking behind you, you’re not going that way”

A smile spread across my face. I looked to see the impressions I’d made…to know where I’d been…the trail was clear, I certainly knew where I was going. I’d walked this same path IMG_9390thousands of time.

Time for me. Space for me.

Church in this place.

Antonio Gaudi, the great Spanish Architect who designed the Basilica in Barcelona believed that his church should mimic the forest and nature because that is where you are closest to God. I’ve never been to the Cathedral in Barcelona, but I’ve spent countless hours in this wilderness, which for me is God’s masterpiece. It’s here I feel at home, rooted and what likely drew me to Snowbird all of those years ago…

I Googled the term “Wilderness”:

 Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not
been significantly modified by 
civilized human activity. It may also be defined as: “The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.”

How would I define “it”. How do I feel when I am here? IMG_9392Surrounded. In the wilderness I am alive, bound, warm, vulnerable and in awe of the world. I feel in ways that I can’t express in any other places or ways. While I marvel at cities and all that we create, they are no match for the creation here. Order and chaos together and yet perfect and “right” The world we create around us is all about “order” with little room for the chaos of nature. No give and take, no Yin, much less Yang. Cities are great for the culture, sophistication and convenience they offer, but I live here in this relaxed rural natural environment at the end of the power lines and it is here that I find peace and comfort in the woods, nature, lakes and outdoors. I like it here. This isn’t a race, you see this is life – and my devotion is deeply personal.

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The trail moved up and to the left, surrounding the big trees. I gazed down at the spider web of roots of the ancient poplar tree. Deep these giants tap deep into the earth, their feet running away from the base like spider legs all crisscrossed with an intricate weave of smaller veins feeding the enormity of the behemoth that stands before me. The top of the tree, towering 150 feet above had long since snapped away. The enormous girth of the tree takes the majority of nutrients from the soil and there isn’t enough to reach the vast heights of the tree, so eventually the tops die out….I wonder how long they will last?

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I watched as a brook bubbled…seemingly straight from the Earth. Looking closely I see the indentions where the water flows underground from a source high above the trail. The sound of the water flowing over the rocks and rushing down a small series of cascades sooths my soul much like music from a choir. I sit for a time on an old log and listen IMG_9362to the sounds. Several couples out on the same walk stroll by. Instead of taking in all of the beauty that surrounded them they are talking about what awful shape the trail is in, how much downfall there is, how muddy their feet are getting – they want the “Disney” experience and that’s not this place. This is one of God’s sanctuaries. A refuge from all that is out “there”. Fairly untouched by the hands of man. Where fallen trees are sawed by hand not chain saws. Where trunks are removed or cut with human effort, only to clear the path. Where bridges over creeks are built to meld with the woods around them. Where water flows where it wants…even if it’s down the trail.

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This is perhaps as close to true wilderness as we can get here in this country anymore…..oh, you can move further into the backcounty and get farther away and it’ll get rougher and more remote, but here….here in this cathedral you get just a taste…enough to make you hunger and thirst for more…trees….water….plants….animals of the world as intended….chaos….and order…..straight…and curved….twisted…and…..young….and old….I take off my boots and sink my feet into the muddy ground feeling connected to this earth, in this place, at this time. Ahhhhhhhh…IMG_9421

I’ve learned so much about myself here. About life, people, places, things and just “stuff”. I need this place…and places like it. I find solace here and with the negative feelings flowing in this country I need this walk in the woods. To be surrounded by God and his creative masterpiece is a blessing indeed. I am grateful. Sometimes you have to enjoy the quiet moments to be able to see the larger picture.

“no winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn”                                                                                                            – Naturalist Hal Borland

Spring is coming. The days are getting longer. The air warmer. Change is everywhere. Welcome. Ready. Here, in this place, like the walks I take beside the creeks or lakes I find the great metaphors for life. Endings, beginnings, seasons change, water flows. The wind blows. All constant. Always changing. Just as God intended. The Wilderness makes you better. Indeed it does.

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To be continued………

Robert Rankin                                                                              Innkeeper, Explorer & Adventurer

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Home and Love

It’s been almost thirty years since they left. Vivid memories of them are intertwined and mixed into my soul. With the help of their children, my aunts and uncles, we cleared out and packed up that house that held a lifetime of memories in Decatur.

My grandmother was a classic, old school southern lady…..exactly what you’d think of if you thought back to the days of Driving Miss Daisy…..she was that kind of woman, although without the means that Miss Daisy had. She held on to the past, gripping it firmly so that it might never see change…particularly in her mind. She held onto things that might have been sentimental….old dusty books…china and silver of our familys from the century past…photographs, albums, games, art, letters and dresses…oh my gosh..the dresses and shoes…At 90 something it was quiet the collection….

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My grandfather was a man’s man, tall, strong and firm. Rooted in his generation..the one that was on the cusp of the “greatest generation” – depression, war and all, he supported all of his family through hard work encouraging them all to be independent, strong and capable. He was one of 18 or so children and as I understand it, they were all that way, so perhaps it was genetic…I just know that fame and fortune didn’t interest him, but life did.

Their Decatur home was old school southern,  graced with wide open spaces and two very private bedrooms, a sun porch that stretched across the back that gazed into the woods and a large formal dining room where people were entertained on fine china and crystal. . Waited on by maids while they looked out over the expansive front yard, smoking cigarettes, pipes and cigars laughing about their world. A neighborhood was eventually built up around their home in the “country”.

They generally didn’t throw stuff away back then, they fixed it. They kept things longer, holding on to them, caring for and reusing…over and over. My grandfathers shop outside was filled with tools and designed to fix, repair and rebuild. He worked six days a week, five full and then a half day on Saturday when, in the afternoon he mowed the lawn fully dressed – in his coat, tie and dress wingtip shoes walking behind his large Gravely tractor. Even till the end of his life you could often find him splitting wood for the many fireplaces in the house or repairing something one of us had broken.

When they were young, families remained close…if not always mentally then physically. With the advent of trains, planes and cars families began to spread out. Ours included..moving farther and farther away from each other – spreading our wings and flying far.

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My grandmother always said. “you raise your children to be strong and better than you, and that’s what they do.” She was a classy, well dressed always, no-nonsense Irish woman, tough as nails.

My grandfather lived his life by some simple, set in stone creeds – “Always do the right thing. “, 

FullSizeRender (24)“Be kind and nice.”, “Live within your means.” , “Always…always..tell the truth.” I can remember each of those phases like it was yesterday. He spoke them often, but more importantly he lived by them. He was a simple, humble and a good “Southern Gentleman”…all the way to his core.

He worked hard, taught family much about life. They worked hard together trying to build a city back during the depression and while he was just a little to old to go off to war, he joined the US Coast Guard and served his country in that way. They both gave to their community, he through Rotary Club and she through gardening clubs. Family, church and community were their benchmarks.

After she died at close to 100, he pined away, James continued to go about his daily life, going to work, to church and passing time in the yard and watching sports on his old B&W TV. I watched the flame leave him with her. It was like seeing a candle burn down and the wick slowly choking out….They’d looked after each other for so long….Without her there, he was ready…

My parents & I went through the things in their home. Discovering treasures that I never knew they had. A $100 in bills in an envelope taped to the back of a drawer in her dresser –  what we’d call “mad money” and old letters they’d written to each other. It was like reading a love story from the deep southern past. A story that came full circle, youth to old age. He told her how he adored her, of her strength and beauty. He reminded her over and over of his feelings. When they were apart he asked her to please wait for him. It was almost a seventy year marriage, a lifetime of love. I’m sorry that my children never knew them, but they are still connected….through me, my parents and life.

They succeeded at fully living life.They did it, not because their life was easier, they had more or were any luckier than others. They succeeded because they worked hard at it, loved it and cherished it. Together and apart. They raised their family to be adventurous and independent. They loved, let go and then watched. What happened with that was AMAZING. Their children grew, lived and taught their children (me & my brothers) to do the same…..this was their gift. A gift that continues to pay forward…to my children and over and over…..

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As I sit and think today about their home on Brookmeade Road in Decatur, Alabama I have a powerful and warm force in the center of my soul…my heart. I don’t really remember all of their stuff, although I have some of their treasures in my home. I know that their house would never have been featured in Southern Living or any other home magazine

What I do remember is running through their huge two acre yard barefoot with my cousins, exploring for hours in the trees and grass. Hiding among the cedar trees. Putting lights on her fabulous Christmas trees…inside and out. I remember catching lightening bugs in mason jars on warm Summer nights. I remember eating warm, fresh oatmeal with sliced bananas and cinnamon at the breakfast table. My grandfather taking afternoon naps on the sunporch in his Lazboy. Walking in the back door late in the afternoon just before suppertime and smelling Matties wonderful southern food on the stove and the taste of my grandmothers cornbread smeared with fresh butter……..that very distinctive smell of being home that I’m absolutely sure still, must be there today.

“What will I leave behind?”

My grandparents home and that of my parents were successful homes. They both did what I think homes should do. That’s the whole point. Another gift. I always have it. It’s mine. It’s all of ours, my children, friends and family – all of those I love and cherish. You see….it’s really in my heart…my soul – the smells, the feelings, the laughter…all of it! In this age of instant internet we don’t have to wait a moment to see what’s new and cool, ..we can see it, feel it, buy it right now….But let’s not forget that it takes more than that to create a home. It’s a generational gift. The greatest gift of a lifetime. You can fill it with fancy furniture from the very best stores or things that aren’t so trendy, but when you build a home from your heart…well, that never goes out of style

Maybe it’s just a midlife thing..or a passing phase, but I see many of my friends building fancy new homes, second places at the beach or here in the mountains and filling them with crazy amounts of stuff and I get to feeling jealous, or that I’m less than…or just not good enough..I am reminded of Ivy Mae and James’ beautiful old home on Brookmeade Road and just like theirs……

Mine will always have open doors, welcoming friends, family & strangers.

Mine will always have a few muddy dog prints on the floor and laundry to be done.

My home will always be filled with love.and here’s my wish for you – I hope yours is too.

Because I know, that’s really all that’s left behind when our life is all done..Love.

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Explorer & Adventurer

Is there an App for that?

I stared at the screen far too long. I think that perhaps my eyes were crossed and for sure the numbers were beginning to run together. The accounting module on my office computer had pushed me over the edge. The closing of the books from the prior month, calculations for sales, taxes, payroll, loss, profit, margins…ugghhhh…..all were running together. Ahhhhhh, the joys of small business…..I needed to step out…..to step away….find my breath….I needed to remember to forget the fast lane, because when I really want to fly I have to harness the power of my passions. I wonder…do you ever feel that way?

There’s so much that I want to share with you. Dinner was magnificent with the culinary team allphoto (22)
on top of their game. Cocktails at the bar whizzed away under the skill of the tender. Fires burned, the hearths were warm as smoke curled from the chimneys. The wind blew as flashes of lightening and rain fell. The evening storms rolled through. All of these and so much more to share……this place, the magic in the air, the “blood moon” or eclipse that was happening early…very early Saturday morning, but I knew the earliness wouldn’t have mattered because it was another adventure to share….just like all of the rest. It could be that  you were to busy….to tired….or plugged in with all that you had to do. I understand….I get that way too…..sometimes I have those same fears…the same thoughts…..sometimes I don’t really know what I want….so…yes, I know…..I get it……that’s why this day was so special……..

IMG_3959 (1)“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also” – Harriet Jacobs

I left the dogs behind. This was now time for me. Time for solitude. It’s important for me to know the difference between the inner solitude that heals and the separation that can isolate me. I understand and have known both. The trail called me to a waterfall….another magical spot that not many people ever see…..because most of us won’t leave the paved road and take the tracks and trails less traveled by. I’ve taken this walk in all types of weather; storms, fog, cold, heat and in every season of the year. This day wasn’t any different, but after last nights storm the sky was a brilliant blue and you could sense the mood change in nature.

Spring was IMG_4082raising her head nodding to everything that is getting ready to grace the forest floor. The first flowers unfolding their petals and the last moments of winter are becoming a memory. Ferns were making “fiddleheads” as they began to unroll into their full beauty. For all of these things and so many more, I was grateful. I took my shoes off as I moved up and over the rocks and dirt. To feel the the soles of my feet on God’s ground. I walked slowly. Thinking back over time and space. Catching glimpses of the weeks, months and years past in my mind and healing. From computers and the office, to the staff and the hustle and bustle that is my life…yes….even here….at the end of the lines.

“the world is mud-luscious and puddle wonderful” – E.E. Cummings

P1010249Finally, I settled on a rock near the base of the falls. I laid out the blanket and lunch…..I poured a drink and just sat…..listening…..the sound of water cascading over the boulders and the wind through the trees….feeling the breeze that only rushing…..falling water can make and the coolness of it as it glazed across my skin. This was the spot. There is a pool at the bottom of the falls that would be perfect for “dipping skinny” when summer comes. You see, it takes settings as grand as this…as removed as this…as remote as this…..to shake me into seeing what’s really important in life. Places like this strip away all of the pretense, comfort, technology, calendars and confidence so that we can become one. This is why I wanted to share this with you. This place. This moment. Never to be repeated…….but trust me…there will always be another moment…another place….another time……that is, if you want there to be.

During that time…on that rock…I caught hold of a conversation that I’d had with a guest at dinner the night before. Making my rounds to tables, greeting and looking after people, a lady stopped me, “How awesome it must be to be you, tell me what it’s like”. I smiled…….and said, “yes it is great and when I was young I always wished I’d fit in…I’m thankful I didn’t get my wish”. We had a long conversation about what its like to be an innkeeper, adventurer, explorer, to be Robert Rankin….and yes, it is wonderful, but the truth is, it’s wonderful being YOU, whoever you are!

All of us spend time looking out..seeing the world and the others that are put in front of us….thinking wow…I wish I was him (or her)….aren’t they lucky! And yes of course they are lucky….but so are YOU! One of a kind. God only created one of you, one of me, one of each…isn’t that absolutely amazing? Some 7,000,000,000 humans on the planet right now and all one of a kind! YOU are an incredible and absolute gift. Even when you don’t realize it….or feel it….. you are. I know that being you can be exhausting, that there are pressures put on us to “be” all of those things that people, friends, family think we “ought” to be. I want you to take that thought…the thought of WHO YOU ARE. Grasp it. Run with it. Hold it tightly. Wrap your fingers and head around it and remember that it is awesome to be YOU, not the you that you may think you should be, ought to be, could be, want to be, but the YOU that you are…right now…at this very moment….that is the amazing piece of it…..just to be who you really are…I spend time in meditation now almost every day. I certainly wish it was something I had done earlier in life because it’s allowed me to become comfortable with that…”The Who I am” and being content with the person that is me….

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“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest
—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. 
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.” – Albert Einstein

You and I are part of the whole. We dream bigger, connect bigger, think bigger and mostly live larger than all of those around us. While we may believe our experience is separate from all of the rest – we are all connected – in ways that we can’t begin to comprehend. This is my invitation – take a moment……today….right now……to reflect on how amazing YOU are. Realize that everyone you touch is part of the whole…part of you…and part of me…..Breathe deeply……deep down into your belly and then slowly exhale……and know that you, I and all others are magic!

I love the smell of the forest….especially this time of year. Easter and the celebrations of spring are a time to celebrate starting over. Being “raised from the dead” as it were. Freshness and newness in everything around us is starting again. My feet padded in the dirt and twigs snapped beneath my toes. The moss was soft and the stream still frigid, but I basked in the glory of of it.

My walk this day comes to an end, but my journey……..my journey……..has just begun. Is it me? Timing? Fear? It doesn’t really matter because souls cannot really live without love. Come, share with me. Walk outside….now…..take off your shoes…….feel the wonders of the grass, the dirt, the leaves beneath your feet. Wherever you are, join me in this magnificent journey, I promise a great adventure! As my father often says, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” Remember that jobs fill your pockets, but adventures fill your soul. My discovery….There is no App for this.…..

Robert RankinP1010050

Innkeeper, Explorer, Adventurer

A Night for That…indeed….

I live my life in real time. Here. It can be a never ceasing go-go-go and give-give-give. Sometimes it can get messy, and tangled and so easy to forget myself in the midst of it all, but sometimes, right when I need it the most there is a night when the universe gifts me with the path back home.

This night, tonight is a night for a hard pour of whiskey in the glass, the way the ice cracks and the heart says  “Oh yes, I know exactly how that feels.”

86fa46f7a09c799b86f7ef950a35c9d2It’s for sitting on the floor in front of a roaring fire, cupping both hands around the glass and closing your eyes and breathing and raising it to your lips and soaking in the ritual. This small act is a great gift indeed when you allow it. It’s the way the mouth feels as it hits the ice cold lip of the glass, and the perfect burn that remains after the glass is pulled away.

It is sage and cedar candles on the mantle and bedside and the burn down smell of matches and smoke. It is Hinoki oil rubbed deep and liberally on bare skin until the scent of it and you are ground together as one. It’s for music that hurts, the exact right kind of ache that has an edge mingling with its sweetness in a way that could never be untangled. That should never be untangled. Because there are some things for which ache is the beauty. It’s the night you stop avoiding the words that never stop chasing you. Where you sink into the solitude and finally breathe out all that air trapped in lungs, waiting to fully exhale.

It’s knowing that at some point tonight there will be a dance. That you’ll follow the movements of your body on the wall, silhouette painted by the shadows of candlelight. That you’ll move and look with long glances until something rises in you that has not risen in a long, long time. It’s a night for coming home and gathering in and calling in the powers of nature and the howl of the wolf. Looking at the moon and stars with wonder and awe. For laying out the stones and sitting still inside the space that is you and honoring all that is holy and remains when sound ceases and the quiet surrounds you.

tumblr_n68j5kU5ZA1sowezvo1_500It’s the way when you tilt the glass all the way up and the candle light glows through and you know your face is illuminated in the most holy of ways. And the song that holds an inexpressible ache plays with every last bit of memory it holds and you are thankful, especially for that. It’s for wood that looks like bone, for cigar boxes and rusted locks and for running your fingers along all the things you’ve collected. For feeling the memories that live in each one as it travels from fingertips to your center and hearing the whispers of all the stories you have yet to tell. It’s for knowing that some stories must remain untold in order for others to be born.

It’s for remembering and honoring the past.

That moment is also to know the hope and the struggle and the stay still and run away and come here and  push back. And also what it is to say yes, to be present exactly where you are. It’s for the space where missing and the gratitude for solitude meet in the center. Where you know that one brings fullness to the other and you can give thanks for both. It is a night for contemplating.

It’s the way the wax looks as the candle burns down. The mellow that the whiskey spreads like hot wax melting into tight held bones. It’s the expansion into space. It’s the cedar and sage and Hinoki rising and carried inside of those scents.

It’s a night for calling the ghosts and welcoming them. Sitting back while they dance, all liquid heat and the yearning skin of lovers long separated. It is a night for remembering. The words. The whiskey. The music. The candles. The smell. The loves long gone and the life that is here, right now.

It is a night for coming home.

To myself

Thank you for sharing the journey with me

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Adventurer, Explorer

The Treasures are all right in front of us….

It was one of those perfect winter days. Not to cold. The sky a bright blue and sun shining bright. IMG_1454The creek was calling. Loading up the fishing gear and heading down to Santeetlah creek to try some of my winter luck I was full of excitement. For me, that time on the water can be sacred and not to offend anyone, but it is very much like church. Those moments when I am at one with all that surrounds me. Focused concentration on the water. Working hard on picking the right fly…casting in exactly the right way….and right place…trying to draw a trout to the surface…..and SMACK…..there he is……ready to reel in, be admired…and then returned to the water….awaiting another day…..pure bliss for the trout fisherman…..

Yep…this was that kinda day, everything was just right…….Except me! No matter what fly pattern I chose, none of my presentation skills. as vast as they may be, caused a fish to merge with the fly as it drifted effortlessly across theP1000941 water. Hunting the deep pools and the rapids I could see the fish…moving gracefully…darting to and from, hiding under the rocky shelves….yes, they were there….I just couldn’t seem to coax them to take what I was offering. Challenged, I continued the effort for a while, but after a couple of hours I’d had enough of “church”. Of course, it could have been JB and Lakota playing in the water, watching me and the fish with interest, but more than likely it was me and just that moment.

Laying down the rod and reel I began to explore the nooks and crannies of the creek as it wound through the woods. I’m always searching. Always looking to see what is out there.FullSizeRender (19) Finding cool twigs or branches and even large boulders to sit on and bask in the warmth of the sun on a chilly winter day. Grabbing sticks to toss into the water for the dogs to retrieve. Today the pebbles, rocks and stones caught my dreams. Wandering along the banks and wading into the pools I was on the hunt. Reaching into the water I picked out dozens and dozens. Sliding them in my pockets and then slipping some out, I skipped them across the surface like a kid. A short while later I sat…in one of my favorite spots…..on a large boulder that juts out into the stream and drew all of my treasures out of my pockets. Laying them out across my lap, I was searching…….searching for the very perfect one….you know the one I was looking for. Round, smooth, perfect color, perfect shape……..and then….it struck home….hitting me like the proverbial bat……they were all PERFECT!

I laughed out loud (the dogs looked at me as though I was nuts) and gathered them once again and headed along the banks. I was seeing with different vision, a new awareness in my eyes. I began to look at them differently…..no imperfections, only beauty…..jagged edges, rough bumps, cracks, all were perfect shapes and color…every single one remarkably different than its neighbor, but ….WOWZA…..what a moment.

I began to celebrate with that knowledge. Joy overtook the search and the discovery was complete. Those rocks are just like you and I….and…….well hell….everyone else. Once we stop trying to find the idea of “perfection” that has been placed or created in our minds and open ourselves to the possibilities then we can discover that we’re all perfect…..Oh….I don’t mean that we aren’t cracked, beat up, slightly out of shape, but we are all perfect in just this moment, all different and all shapes and sizes…..and in the scheme of things…if we look closely enough…we can see it……the beauty that lies within all of us……

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Well. that was it…my lesson for the day. I wandered back to the truck, broke down the rod, took off the waders and boots. Loaded the dogs into the back cranked the motor and headed up the mountain towards home. Come to the mountain for a visit. Let’s sit and talk. I’ll take you to that special spot on the water and let you see for yourself.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot…on the way to the house I felt those bulges in my pockets. I pulled out the rocks gathered at the creek and caressed them. Rolling each of them in my fingers. Feeling every nook….every bend…every crease and indention….noticing all of their varied colors…the warmth and shapes….I just grinned and grinned….I still am.

Life at the end of the lines, From the INNSide looking out and In Celebration of the Great Adventure Ahead!

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Adventurer and Explorer

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Fill Your Soul

“Jobs fill your pocket. Adventures fill your soul”

                                                                   -Jamie Lyn Beatty

I just returned to the mountain and realized something undeniable. Spirit and adventure run deep in my soul—there can be no doubt. I am an explorer. Come, share the ride with me.

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The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest of wilderness”

                                                                                                        -John Muir

I love to ramble. I lust to wander and love the freedom that comes with the unknown adventure. My senses adore the feelings of the elements as they touch me. I want to travel and will aimlessly seek out adventures in cities, crossroads and in the woods. I often find myself taking dirt roads beside creeks, streams, rivers and woods just to see where they lead. I love the way it feels to be in cities, seeing the grandeur of the buildings, art, restaurants and the masses of people. Then always I return to the peace of my home. To think, reflect, share and be in solitude. Is that a contradiction?

If home is indeed where the heart is then this is where mine belongs. After returning from Atlanta I sat in the foyer, a spot in the house that often is just passed through. Drink in hand 2015-01-14 18-29-24 -0500I spent about 40 minutes gazing at the digital photo frame that sits on a table there. The pictures of adventures scroll by. Elizabeth sat with me and asked about each photo as it passed. We laughed at many. Every single one has a story, each a place or moment frozen in time. Oh yes……..while I’d love to be able to catch the next flight out and surf the world for a great adventure, that’s not where my life is right now. So I take time to find it in all of the simple things. Dinner, laughter, gazing at the stars, long walks and just everyday moments.

I seek treasure, but not the kind you think. I search for clues and answers, scrambling over rocks in the woods and through the minds of those who cross my path. I will not be pinned down or placed in a box. I don’t have a shelf life or expiration date. My imagination is both friend and enemy with whom I often question and argue, but I look at with awe and love to set free. Those pictures of friends, family, life, adventure and exploration set that imagination free. Sharing the sense of wonder with Elizabeth created a list of places to go and people to share it with. All of them are flames that burn bright. Brought out by those photographs….I realized that I forget to let my inner child lead the way. I allow myself to become mired in fog. My head gets filled with a thousand thoughts, I carry baggage and often absorb the mess. It was good to have a reminder.

“My scars tell a story. A reminder of times when life tried to break me, but failed. They are markings of where the structure of my character was welded”

                                                                                                     -Steve Maraboli

I am fascinated by the way we operate in this world. I watch people scurry about and wonder if they are on a grand adventure or just going through the motions…. We all do it, getting caught up in our routines so much that we fail to find the adventure in everyday life. I however, won’t be forgotten. We all should refuse to be forgotten in spite of our fear, tears, scuffed knees, broken hearts and bones that mark our lives. We are like treasures from deep in the mountain, We possess so much, yet we remain hidden gathering value until we sense that the time is right to be discovered. I don’t wish to disturb you or to be disturbed, but I hate to be labelled, discussed and placed on a table or shelf for all to view.

photo (33)I love to dig for the truth in myself and uncover things, trying to unravel an endless rope of hopes and dreams gone awry. I can be wild, my hair long, ride fast and am furious and untamable. I go slow down country roads, lost in the woods because this is where my magic can be found. I am a piece of art appreciated by a few, those who resonate with embers of the flame by the light of the fire. I like bare feet, my heart beating and my hands and mind open. My eyes are full of magic to be shared.

So, if you ever pass by my magical place on this mountain, I ask you to stop for a moment. Share with me as I will with you. Tell me about your journey, the adventure and exploration that you’ve had so far. Talk to me of your days and nights and let’s unleash our fantasies. We are blessed beyond belief and have time to rest. I will not tire, so sit with me, lie down on this meadow on top of this windy mountain and tell me where you began, let’s fill our souls. Purchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/480968

“It is easy to be a Holy Man on top of a mountain”

                                                                -Somerset Maugham

In Celebration of the Great Adventure Ahead!!!!!!

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper, Adventurer & Explorer

Welcome to….

2015!

Sophie sat with me over the holidays and helped Elizabeth and I celebrate in style. As we all talked I heard Sophie talk of things that bother her and found that many of these affect most of us. We worked to come up with some resolutions and….

well…..in her case…..   

Ten Steps to a Happier Life

  • IMG_1844Avoid Drama
  • Be Nice to Everyone
  • Have Good Friends
  • Get a Back Massager
  • Listen to Good Music
  • Relax When You’re Mad
  • Always Help Your Friends
  • Concentrate
  • Be OK Alone
  • Don’t be Needy

Do that and you’re fine! (punctuation corrected, sorry Sophie)

As the first full week of the New Year sets upon us resolutions have been made and occupy our minds. The gyms are full, diet ads all over the TV. Many of us are setting goals that are beyond logic, reason and possibilities. As I read Sophie’s list I nodded in agreement. Of course I changed Concentrate to Awareness and I’m sure her “good” music is a little different than mine, but I couldn’t agree more with the back massager! Most of Sophie’s ideas are both achievable and reasonable if only we take it one day at a time.

I read a friends writing the other day that talked about not taking the “big steps”, but really small ones. It’s the same analogy I used when riding my bicycle. I hated climbing hills and mountains, but a friend once told me to concentrate only on what’s right in front of your wheel, never look up to the top of the mountain because if you do the mind will beat the strength of the body every time. Keeping our head down and focusing on the task at hand serves us very well, but every now and then we look up and get overwhelmed…

As I look back on the past I find plenty of regrets and I would love to have a “do over” for some parts of life. I’m also focused on the future and all of the possibilities that are ahead.  As an Entrepeneur, Innkeeper, father, friend and writer I understand how important it is to build up, not to tear down. Each of us can use our talents to create….a feeling, to set a mood, relate an idea, share dreams and so much more with those around us. We can express every emotion, touch, hold hands, hug or even long glances with crafted phrases and words. Often we never see the impact that these have on people, but I know that our reach is far, often to places we never knew existed.

Through the years, I have been given much and taken more than I deserved. I’ve shared, loved, hated, hurt and been blessed…..more. I survived my youth…..and so far my adulthood. I am older now…..and hopefully wiser. As I reach into 2015 I know that the best is yet to come for all of us. We can each take the lessons of our past and apply them to the NOW and the future is bright indeed.

I am humbled and often ask for forgiveness, yours, mine and God’s. I know that I will so will God, the question is you? Will you not only forgive me and others, but will you forgive yourself? My life has flipped over again and again and rarely gone according to my plan. It’s quite the learning process! I have searched for life, love, friendship, happiness and so much more through the years. Through all of the darkness and all of the  light, I found and lost it time and again. Here’s the secret…..it’s an inside job.

I am the luckiest man I have ever known. I have two fabulous daughters who teach me how to live life. I also have many friends (and a few enemies) near and far that listen and watch, helping me along the way. Through it all, you have been with me. It is a magical journey. The coming year is going to be an AMAZING adventure!

So,…..I’d like to offer you Sophie’s New Year’s resolutions and one more for 2015…….               

   LOVE YOURSELF MORE!!! MUCH MORE!!!

Will You? I know I will! As Sophie says, “Do that and you’re fine!”

In Celebration of the Great Adventure Ahead!

Robert Rankin

Innkeeper & Adventurer

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