Experience life

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. ~Joe Lewis

I have been living with my head in the clouds. Dubbed the land of the sky, Asheville, North Carolina provides both a literal and figurative interpretation of that moniker. There are not too many places where you can wake up to the modern comforts of society in the form of a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and find yourself 15 minutes later driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway towards the silence and solitude of the back-country.

Finding myself is a good way to summarize the last 9 days of my life.

Our journey included just under 2200 miles of driving on interstate highways, rural country roads, mountain switchbacks, and gravel paths to a wide variety of the most beautiful destinations. Over the course of the past week, I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, read a book with my feet submerged in a mountain stream, visited the highest point east of the Mississippi River, and remembered what it felt like to capture a lightning bug, set it free, and watch it glow.

I enjoyed the most delicious blackberry cobbler at the highest restaurant in the eastern United States, twice (what can I say, it was really good ;-)). I watched freight trains roll out of downtown Asheville towards Knoxville. I saw a black widow spider for the first time. I learned that hydrofluoric acid can dissolve glass. I even learned that there is the possibility of parallel universes and unseen dimensions thanks to the wonders of string theory (and my 10 year old son). Bottom line, I lived. I experienced life and the world around me.

How many times do we get stuck plodding along through our daily lives? Work, eat, sleep, work, eat, sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat. We get caught in the suction of a vacuum that strips all the vim and vigor out of our life. Sometimes we need a jolt of energy injected into our system that reminds us this is no way to live. The experience of the past nine days has been that energy bar for my soul.

calling mountainsI will admit that at the onset of this voyage, I was still under control of that negative force that encourages lethargy and listlessness. And then I inhaled. A nice deep breath of fresh mountain air and the splendor of the landscape stretching before me put my soul at ease. I was both relaxed and energized at the same time. It was a surreal feeling that I will not soon forget and that I long to return to every day.

Life isn’t about accomplishments or meeting schedules. It’s about experiences. It’s about variety. It’s about uncovering feelings and thoughts that haven’t been permitted to surface because of our misguided perceptions of the world around us. When we remove those blockades and simply allow ourselves to be, amazing and wonderful things begin to occur. We create moments. Some of those moments are prodigious and profound. We share these with the entire world. Other moments are more intimate. We share these with close friends and family, or perhaps we keep them to ourselves.

I have lived in Florida for more than 15 years. Over that period of time, I have visited numerous places in the United States and abroad for both business and pleasure. For the first time, departing Asheville felt more like leaving home rather than heading home. I return to Florida a different person than when I left.

safe harbor 2The entire experience has reminded me that we only have one life to live. We can live doing the same things, day in and day out, caught in the doldrums of everyday life. Or, we can embrace change, choose to mix it up, and discover the wonders of the world around us.

We are all like ships. We can choose to stay safe in the harbor, or we can choose to embark on the adventure of our life. Raise your sail and let the wind catch it. Allow it to carry you towards exciting places filled with new experiences. Memories await … go capture them.

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20 thoughts on “Experience life

  1. Kathy Frederick July 16, 2013 / 8:45 am

    The mountains ARE my home. I miss them so.

    • davecenker July 16, 2013 / 9:08 am

      It is quite amazing how certain places can affect your entire disposition. I certainly had that defining moment over the past week 😉

  2. Jennifer July 16, 2013 / 9:38 am

    It truly was hard to leave – I think the only thing calling me back to Florida were our kitties, a comfy bed and some good friends -I think we could easily get “lost” in the mountains 🙂

  3. Miriam July 16, 2013 / 1:08 pm

    About 18 years ago we took a camping trip in the Smoky Mountains- we were living in Florida at the time (most of my family is there, and I partially grew up there) but we were looking for a new place to live and were curious about the area. It was kind of a crazy trip- we had a baby who got carsick easily and my aging mom who had never camped in her life… but I still remember the beauty of those mountains. We ended up moving back to Maine, but now many years later we are settled near mountains, in Colorado this time. I like the way you interpret the world in your writing, very thoughtful 🙂

    • davecenker July 16, 2013 / 1:20 pm

      There is some unspoken majesty about a landscape that includes a mountain 😉 You can feel on top of the world and be humbled at the same time. Thank you very much for your kind words and for sharing your story. It is appreciated more than you know 🙂

    • Kathy Frederick July 16, 2013 / 4:32 pm

      I love the Rocky Mountains too. I spent almost 3 years in Colorado Springs and the land is just so beautiful. But the Smokey’s are my home! ❤

  4. Barrie Burgess Davenport July 17, 2013 / 10:15 am

    Dave, you are an exquisite writer. This was a beautiful post and a lovely reminder of what is really meaningful in life.

    • davecenker July 17, 2013 / 10:39 am

      The insight and inspiration you have provided through your blog has allowed me to breakthrough some of my own personal barriers and truly experience life with passion and emotion. The two words ‘thank you’ are not nearly big enough to express my gratitude 🙂

  5. inkspeare July 17, 2013 / 2:05 pm

    I enjoyed this post very much.

    • davecenker July 17, 2013 / 2:16 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts 🙂

  6. Niki Richardson July 18, 2013 / 10:56 am

    You’re an extraordinary writer gifted with the ability to evoke emotion and transport your readers. I felt like I was there. Thank you for sharing your talents with us! And for reminding us that it’s the small and simple pleasures of life that make it all worthwhile!

    I love the quote about safe ships in the harbor! Always believed that if you don’t take risks you don’t get rewards!

    • davecenker July 18, 2013 / 11:02 am

      Thank you is simply said, but deeply felt. Thanks, as always, for adding your inspiring thoughts and insights 🙂

  7. Marquita_Herald (@MarquitaHerald) July 19, 2013 / 4:18 pm

    Oh there are very few things in life I enjoy more than a good road trip! When we were growing up my parents took the family on a month-long road trip across the country CA to NY every summer. Dad would take us a different route each time so we could see as much of the country as possible. Now that is in my blood and it’s the one and only thing I miss about not living on the mainland. However, I have a 3 week vacation coming up in a few months – my first in far too many years – and it’s a road trip, so reading your account of your trip has definitely helped to energize me for the day ahead. Thanks for the beautiful description Dave!

    • davecenker July 20, 2013 / 2:15 pm

      It’s so funny how we don’t realize how much we need a vacation until we’re on it 😉 I am happy to have been able to help you reminisce about the past and become energized for your upcoming adventure 🙂 Explore and enjoy!

  8. Karen Jolly (@MinuteMindset) July 19, 2013 / 6:21 pm

    What a beautiful journey Dave -so glad I found your blog. I am reminded of a quote I heard just yesterday, that if we would just walk this earth barefoot for a while we would find everything we’ve been asking for. This life is for us – its up to us to get out there and live it, experience and savor it! Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • davecenker July 20, 2013 / 2:24 pm

      I love your quote about walking barefoot. It seems to carry both a literal and metaphorical meaning that is inspiring. Many thanks for visiting and adding your beautiful insights 😉

  9. Amy Lynne Hayes July 26, 2013 / 7:04 pm

    You have a wonderful way with words! In a less poetic manner, I have always agreed with a friend of mine that if we got hit by a bus tomorrow, we would rather have had the cake and wine today. Life’s all about what you make of it, the experiences you have, and who you share them with. You can choose to dwell on the bad, or you can choose to smile at the good, throw out some positive vibes, and just keep on living, one moment at a time. 🙂

    • davecenker July 27, 2013 / 10:07 am

      Your incredibly kind words and thoughts add so much insight to my post and I thank you! Our lives really do seem to be about creating moments, one after another that add to our wonderful experience called life. Not all of them are going to be the prodigious, earth-shattering, life-altering moments. But, each adds to the total sum of who we are and what we leave for the people around us. Thank you for the wonderful reminder to enjoy every single one of them 🙂

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