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May 27, 2015: The Good Life

One of Pete’s dad Mike Praetorius’s areas of academic specialization was “the good life.” He drew upon the work of Plato in attempting to determine what constituted a good life, morally, ethically, socially. He died in 1995, right before he was to retire from teaching. He taught philosophy courses at Whittier College. At the time, I thought he was being overly elitist.

My viewpoint has done a 180 degree turn since knowing him. The man was actually spot on with his thinking. He didn’t just take a topic and distance himself from it. Rather he (excuse the cliché) practiced what he preached. I remember once going to Joshua Tree with him and Pete. He packed a wonderful picnic lunch, in a picnic basket – with fine food, wine, and cloth napkins. This seemingly small gesture was the embodiment of the good life. In fact, the meal became a celebration of sorts, of all things good in our respective lives.

Mike showed by example how we might all strive to treat ourselves, and others, in a mindful, generous, and kind fashion. I wish he was now around so that I might talk with him further about this. His not being here is really a huge loss.

Plato once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. His statement goes hand-in-hand with my sentiments about the good life. Unbeknownst to me, I have been living the good life. It was so obvious that I failed to see it.

Here I am, headed to Portland, Oregon sitting in the lounge car, in front of a large open window. We have now just passed Mt. Shasta in northern California. Before me are pine trees, patches of sage, rolling hills, country that resembles the areas that Pete and I travelled through while on our pack trips in Colorado. Oh yeah, I know how lucky I am, to be able to make this comparison. But of course, there will always be longing, in hope of again experiencing the same, again, again, and again. Whoa – suddenly we are now going through a beetle kill spruce area. The spruce, they are green tinged with orange.

Last night I went out to eat with Anita, Rex, and their two friends, one of whom was a woman named Joy. Joy was a talker, admittedly clinic obsessed – the object of her obsession being clinician Buck Brannaman. We didn’t immediately hit it off. But an hour later, when finally Anita dropped me off at the train station, I knew that she was a kindred spirit. We were having a wonderful conversation about our favorite music groups when finally, and sadly, we parted company.

I had a long wait in the train station. I got excited when I saw on the sign above customer service, an announcement that there was going to be a Tour De Cluck in Davis, CA. Someone is arranging for a bicycle tour of people’s chicken facilities. Now how cool is that?

The wait intensified. I met an older woman and her younger caretaker as we waited for the ticket taker to give us our boarding passes. We talked about the older woman’s granddaughter’s obsession with horses. The older woman was wearing glasses that made her look owlish as did her wistful expression. I hoped to talk further with the pair, but when it came time to board the train, they got on one shuttle (a golf cart of sorts), and I got on another. I later learned that I got to ride on the cart because I had inadvertently sat down in the senior citizens area. Others had to walk.

When, finally, I got on the train and went to claim my seat, the woman in front of me first claimed the window seat. I grabbed the empty seat behind it which belonged to the conductor. I knew this because he soon told me so. I offered to move—he then said that I could have the seat for the night, but that it was his seat and he would be reclaiming it in the morning.

The conductor was true to his word. He woke me up at 6 a.m. and I made my way to the lounge car and grabbed a seat that faced a large open window.

So this is where I am as I am now writing this dispatch. I’m now on my way to Portland, where I’ll spend time with my mother and sister. I would like to have gone the other way, and attended the Sacramento Horse Expo, but perhaps I will do this another time.

Yep, I am living the good life. I’m acutely aware that in relation to horse training that I have just made a huge leap forward and now need to take some time and internalize what I’ve just learned. I also must be patient and accepting of the fact that the acquisition of knowledge is an incremental process.

Going to spend train time reading and writing. Might write an article for the Icelandic Horse Quarterly about my experiences at the centered riding clinic. Gotta help promote centered riding, which is key for me, to living the good life. That and picnic baskets full of good things.

Next: 140. 5/28/15:Flirting

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