The secret to living well and longer is to eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure.
Unattributed “Tibetan” proverb
The pace of our hunt is what many people would call painfully slow. It is dictated by the speed of a couple of mules pulling a wagon. Before the turn of the twentieth century, that pace—the speed that a grown person can walk—was the normal pace of everyday life. I enjoy the break from my supersonic, microwave, digital world while a pair of mules pulls me along the back roads of life. My job forces me to slow down and smell the manure. It is good for my soul and something too few people are able to appreciate.
As a wagon driver, when I am not wrestling a pair of obstinate mules, I spend most of my time watching the dogs—the pointers that race around looking for birds and the retriever that sits on my lap when she is not retrieving. Their joy for life and their ability to live in the moment is infectious and provides a lesson for humans. Perhaps we should spend less time worrying about the past and fearing the future. Somehow, we need to figure out how to just live in the present or, put another way, to seize the day.
My third observation is a lesson in how we should treat other people. I was raised in the south where children are taught that when they say Yes or No to a grown up, it had better be followed by Sir or Mam. It is so ingrained that I still find myself saying it to strangers to this day. When I pass someone on the street or meet someone in an elevator, I nod and say hello, whether I know the person or not. Anything else would be—well, just rude. So it is not such as stretch for those of us who work at the hunting lodge to treat our guests with respect. The world, I believe, would be a better place if we would focus more of our attention on the people around us.
When my wife and I visited Africa in the 1980’s, we were struck—and a little un-nerved—by the isolation. When we were on safari, we were truly disconnected from the world. Today, there are few places left on the planet that are not connected to the rest of the world, whether through cell phones, Wi-Fi, or the internet. When our friends recently traveled to Africa, they shared their experiences through social media—live from the Serengeti. I’m not sure I consider that progress. So while we are learning how to better focus on other people, we also need to learn how to put down our mobile devices and disconnect from our fast-paced, digital world on occasion.
The final observation is one that unfolds before me every day. It is the quiet thrill of sitting on my wagon and allowing the sights, smells, and sounds of the Georgia woods wash over me. Sometimes I wonder if we have lost the ability to appreciate nature for what it is.
So, there they are; five rules for living life in the slow lane. It sounds simple. Just slow down, unplug, and enjoy the day. But how do we do that in a world that has such a tight hold on us. In the coming weeks, we will look at each of these areas in a little more detail.
(Author’s NOTE: If you would like to receive a free, advance-review copy of the book Lessons from a Mule Wagon (Coming out later this year), leave a message at the contact page on my website.)
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