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Panic and exhilaration at full gallop

May 3, 2017

I had been yearning to be back on a horse for years. Memories of my time as a teenager, biking to the new stable where they eventually allowed my friend and me to take out horses on our own, have nudged at my subconscious. Even knowing that I would not be accorded the privilege of riding without a guide, the appeal of being in close contact with these beautiful, temperamental beings held a strong appeal.

The feeling of cantering around an open field back then felt timeless. Our hour and a half evaporated. We knew the woods and fields and could pace our ride to have enough time to enjoy the scenery, away from everyone else.
There were ten of us who signed up for the horseback excursion from our hotel in Patagonia and the estancia (large ranch) was clearly well drilled, sizing helmets and readying horses. Several of our group were first timers, and the bulk of the ride was casual walking through lovely woods on one side of the steppe. It was greener here than the arid stretches surrounding the hotel and the glacial lake it bordered.

At one point, the guide asked me if I would like a little gallop before meeting up with the group again. “Sure!” I responded readily, imagining the easy going rhythm of a canter. He signaled one other person from our group and myself to follow the gaucho off to the left.

Once the others were around the bend, without so much as a howdy do, the gaucho took off like a shot, at a full gallop of 340 miles per hour. I was sliding around in my slippery hiking pants and quick- dry panties literally breathless within seconds! We slowed to a walk around a steep curve where the trees hung low and needed to be held aside and then just as abruptly were off at break neck speed. My horse, who had been antsy from the beginning, insisted on bolting past my fellow group member and I wondered whether he had wings that would unfold or was merely applying the after burners.

The saddle was unlike any I had ever ridden, without the horn of a western style, but more bulky than the traditional English saddle. There was a hump in front that I was relieved one could grab in order to keep a seat on the turbo charged beast who had sensed a return to the barn.

Having managed to remain in the saddle I can say that it was exhilarating. I relayed my panic and glee to my family and my husband was quick to point out that he recalled a certain adventure in Colorado where we had traveled to regroup after my mother in law’s death. With one guide for our group of two dozen, the guide asked whether I would mind being in the lead for a bit while he went back to check on the others.

“Happy to do it!” I assured him. As my husband tells it, within moments I had coaxed us into a gallop (we were trotting) and he was horizontal on his horse, managing to stay on by dint of his thirty year old strength. He feels his terror matched my mild hysteria at zooming warp speed with a horse who did not even speak English.

Fair enough. Justice is served. My karma has been balanced. Perhaps the next time I ride, I can achieve a happy medium of pace: walk, trot, breezy cantering and a dollop of galloping at the end when the horse and I are both ready.

New connection to an old friend

You think you know someone. Forty plus years of being friends, starting in college. Years of jaunts to the ski slopes, museums, countless parks and restaurants and you’re pretty sure you’ve got the goods on your pal. We’ve known each other prior to each of our marriages, have been there for births, deaths, illness, the full gamut of what life offers to friends.

Then one day my pally calls up and puts it out there: “I’ve really wanted to go to Patagonia (news to me) and George is just not interested; he travels so much for work. Do you want to go? I’ve been working with a travel agent to organize it.” (Says the consummate planner).

I feel this kind of trip deserves some serious consideration. We’re talking two full weeks and considerable expense. I’ve never traveled more than a weekend without family so I take a full seventeen seconds before shouting, “OF COURSE I WANT TO GO!” There are a couple of details she runs by me before finalizing the itinerary. All I know is that we will be doing lots of hiking (something we have never done together) while we visit glaciers and the stark Patagonian steppe and mountains.

I’m so in, helpless to resist an opportunity to move my body and immerse myself in the outdoors. We know we will be able to give each other space when necessary. Our biggest concern is that I like to sleep in a cool room (read less than sixty degrees), while Susan is cold once the temperature dips below seventy-five.

I learned that Susan’s determination to have something “just right” means that she will walk beyond her hunger danger zone to find just the right place to eat. I learned that when she says “I’m just going to have my coffee and relax” in the morning that I should open the door and then wait fifteen minutes before joining her.

I have known that despite her diminutive stature (five foot one and a size two or zero) she is wiry and strong, but hiking fourteen miles together without flagging demonstrates it in an altogether more graphic way.

We both expressed some concern about the cruise portion of our trip. A small boat designed to navigate the fiords for three days takes us down “glacier alley” and around Cape Horn. We worried about our ability to remain friendly and civil in close quarters with other people (let alone each other) and an hour and half into the cruise Susan turns to me at dinner and utters, “I don’t think I’ll ever do another cruise again.” We both burst out laughing at the absurdity of this preemptive optimism, and there proves to be sufficient excursions and hikes to crush our claustrophobic tendencies.

I become completely absorbed in the vast steppe of the Patagonian landscape, its openness and predictable sighting of guanaco, rhea (ostrich), the occasional fox or condor and the elusive puma. I could not get enough of the jagged, glacier topped mountains which jut up from almost wherever we walk, ride, or sit. Their enduring presence promotes a deep abiding sense of peace and fullness of spirit.

Although we never talk about it, I realize that this is true for Susan, too. We discuss everything from our children to our own childhoods, but this sense of connection to our planet is an underlying, unspoken, and all encompassing theme. It is the cord that binds us to each other, and to the beauty of our world. It was there all along, but it took us to the southern most point of South America for this to emerge in my consciousness.

One does not stumble upon Patagonia. It takes a determined and committed effort to get there. So, too, does enduring friendship require us to navigate periodic cross currents, sun, and downpours. I am deeply grateful to experience both.

Heaven in Patagonia

After driving for four hours from El Calafate, Argentina through mile after mile of rolling desert, or steppe, our driver pulls into what appears to be a completely arbitrary turn, although I did notice the Tierra spiral trademark on the sign. The landscape had been dotted with the customary guanaco, with occasional cattle and sheep interspersed.

The driveway leading to the hotel is a circuitous three quarters of a mile with ostrich-like rhea grazing and a grey fox circulating nearby. The fox is small and adorable, almost domestic cat size. We pull up to the entrance which is dramatic in its low impact on the environment. It is a low graceful curve in brown wood, set a hundred yards back from Lake Sarmiento with the jagged snow tipped mountains of Torres del Paine framing the entire view beyond.

The simplicity of the exterior emphasizes the beauty in which it is set, and focuses the eye on what lies ahead, just as a frame highlights what is within it; your eye is not drawn to the frame itself. This homage to the land and the deep respect that is conveyed in every aspect of the design sets one immediately at ease as the mountains and shimmering turquoise lake cast their spell on every viewer.

With its low profile, the expanse of the entryway is startling with its twenty foot ceilings and undulating curve of glass that features once again the lake and mountains. The “living room” area, adjacent to the round bar and dining room beyond create one hundred horizontal feet of window in which to drink in the view. It appears to be the only show in town and every one of the forty rooms has its eyes set on that arresting piece of landscape, as do the infinity pool and jacuzzi at the far end of the second floor where one enters.

The light and variated Lenga wood with which the interior of the hotel is composed creates a warmth that is reflected in the way the staff greets the guests. This includes the general manager who leaves a hand written greeting in the rooms as well as providing a personal tour upon arrival.

It is the most luxurious camp one can imagine with a bevy of excursions designed to meet every hiker’s needs, and staff to help guests navigate a program of hikes depending on how much time and energy one has allotted this paradise.

Meals are included, as there are no restaurants within miles of the hotel, and lunches are packed for all day excursions.

It is all about enjoying this bold, commanding and unforgiving landscape while being swaddled, fed and cared for with a smile.

This rare treat feeds the soul while nourishing the body, my favorite combo for being away. I drank my fill of this delicacy, and though we did a number of the possible hikes, I know that they would be completely different on a different day, with less wind, or more, cloudy, or more sunny. There would be different animals, a different feel to the landscape; it would be hard to get enough. The guides live nearby and spend the season here. Though I imagine it could be isolating, for a few months it is hard to imagine anything more compelling. Put it tops of my list of “possible jobs for a future life.” It’s good to dream.

Reaching from afar

March 3, 2017

I did not plan to be away during the inauguration and following rallies and marches. Last April when my dear college friend and I were planning our trip to Patagonia, there were not even formal nominees, let alone thoughts about whether to march or where. It wasn’t until December that we put together the timing, realizing that we were leaving two days before Inauguration Day. We were in Buenos Aires during the ceremony itself and in transit between Buenos Aires and El Calafate on the day of the marches.

El Calafate is the on-deck site for Perito Moreno glacier, one of the few glaciers that is maintaining itself; it is growing as fast as it is calving and is thus considered stable. Located in the middle of Argentina, it is a dramatic and stunning rendering of a moving river of ice.

I worried that there could be trouble at the marches. Although designed as a peaceful statement, crowds can be unpredictable, especially when emotions run high, and who knows what would happen? And what could I do from thousands of miles across the planet?

There was wifi in our hotel room and a friend from Scotland posted a photograph of throngs of people in Edinburgh. Tears sprang to my eyes at the thought of people from another country, in a city where my daughter attends University, gathering in acknowledgment and support of concerns on our soil.

In the next minute my daughter exclaimed about the planes that are loaded with people from the UK who are coming to Washington. The tears slipped down my cheeks as I thought about the kind of commitment of time, resources and conviction that this requires and wondered what I would do if I were home.

I believe in speaking up, in being heard, and I believe in people gathering to express concerns, but I am not thrilled about being in huge crowds. When I attended the Paul Simon/ Sting concert at the Garden, I vowed it would be my last concert in this kind of venue.

I posted a request for people to be safe, and went to sleep hoping for the best. The next day my friend and I headed out to hike on the glacier (on the sides, where it is more stable). Later we walked around to view its otherworldly and strikingly beautiful face, jagged jutting pieces of pale and deeper blue overlapping and looking so permanent.

As we gazed at it, we heard a crack like thunder and a small chunk broke off and crashed into the turquoise water. The height of the glacier is equivalent to a twenty story building, and the little chunk that came off was the size of a Mini Cooper, our guide informed us.

Upon return to the hotel, one friend described her experience in Washington, D.C., on the train, then walking as streams of people joined from different streets to converge in larger masses as they flowed together.

I thought about the tributaries of the glacier, rivers of ice and how even though they seem static, they are in fact dynamic, changing structures. It was a good reminder that the reality we are living today is not permanent. I was bowled over by how quickly so many people mobilized all over the world to make clear that threats regarding people’s freedoms and threats to our planet’s health are not going unanswered. Even as I heard people’s frustration about wishing there was more to do, it has become clear that leaders can and will emerge from this chaos. It is not clear yet who, or what forum they will take, but it is early days. The vitality, creativity, and passion are real, and I could feel it all the way in Argentina and Chile. Knowing everyone was okay, and seeing pictures of my husband and older daughter’s thrilled faces, the tears let loose. These are my people. They are all my people. And they are everywhere, ready to mobilize, protect and connect. The question of whether or not I might have marched fades away. We all have our parts, and they are all important, as long as we are all heading toward the same river.

Delayed new year’s post…

February 10, 2017

In this time of New Year’s resolutions and personal industry, I am taking advantage of the first snowstorm of 2017 to take things down a notch.

A perfectly timed storm, leaving space on the Saturday morning for exercise and last minute grocery shopping before the bulk of the light snow came drifting down, and we were able to move our dinner plans to next Saturday. This opened space for an afternoon of projects (the kind that take four years and a half hour to complete) and the leisure and joy of preparing food for our friends’ annual Epiphany party.

People are asking about intentions for the New Year, what changes and shifts have risen to the surface to establish priority on the grand To Do list of the year. I support this notion, despite Mark Twain’s declaration that this week’s New Year’s Resolutions will be used next week to pave the path to hell. It is important to live with intention; without a sense and description of what that means to someone personally, it is easy for life to ooze by without ticking off even the top items on the bucket list.

However, in order to establish even a preliminary idea of what is most important to achieve in life, there has to be some quiet time, some space to allow in the scope of possibility, let alone which of those possibilities are fitting for a particular person at a specific time in the continuum of the lifespan. And the ideal time for reflection is now, in this time when light is shortest, and it takes the most effort to be out in the elements. So have we set ourselves up by choosing the most inwardly spacious time to set immediate outward goals?

I’ve realized how much courage it takes to be still. I enjoy being busy, as many people do. I’m fairly organized, so generally feel like I can make good use of my time, but it is more challenging to let time drift. It is only in the leaning into the mystery that true answers emerge. They are there within, but we must open the window to beckon them forth. They cannot be forced, but slip out when we are looking the other way, and take shape only when we return our gaze upon them.

Our current rescue dogs are also a lesson in patience combined with diligent and intentional setting of messages. There is no rushing them. When they are fearful, we cannot demand that they stop being afraid and simply come and be scratched behind the ears.The rapport must come as we make the time to spend together, and keep the promise of walking regularly, and keeping their food bowls filled.

So, too, our psyches are willing to part with what often lies dormant while we work, watch TV or check our Facebook feed. I know this to be true, and yet I still find it challenging to ensure that my day involves time for the avenue to be swept clean so that my deepest utterances may make an appearance.

What am I afraid of? Surely there is nothing there that cannot be spoken. It is alway my choice to act upon what I see or believe.

In this year of 2017, I am asking myself to do less, so that when the important and surprising newness comes a calling, I am ready to let it in and act upon it should I so desire.

Yoga on my mind…

December 13, 2016

Although I have practiced mindfulness for over thirty years, I have not instituted an active yoga practice until the last couple of months. For years I have been asserting that yoga would be a great addition to my winter Zumba and dog walking regiment but it took my daughter’s discovery of New England Yoga to get me to the studio.

I was immediately comfortable in the open space with high ceilings and skylights, and even on the occasions when there have been twenty people there I have not felt claustrophobic.

I seem just a tad competitive with myself about being able to do the positions. However, there is no rushing this. One cannot (mercifully) force a split. I cannot even pronounce most of the postures yet, but I know that I will eventually be able to discern a Chattanooga from a chaturanga. I mostly don’t even mind being a beginner. Everyone has aspects that are easier and those that are more challenging. Some can make spectacular pretzels out of their arms, but their legs will not succumb to such a mold. Others can stand on their head quite handily but cannot easily balance on one leg.

It is a relief to have someone else leading the session, making it a place I am responsible for no one but myself. I have caught not a single person smirking, snickering, or most likely even noticing let alone caring whether my palms are flat on the floor. I am certainly too preoccupied with my own efforts to give a hoot about what anyone else is up to.

Each of the instructors is professional and encouraging. He or she might correct a hand or foot position (for which I am grateful) or help me stretch to the next level. I love that some of it is out of reach. It gives me more to look forward and aspire to, even when I am frustrated that I am not there NOW.

On Sundays, Sue Pendleton, the owner, brings Singing Bowls and at the end of the 75 minute session, she induces magical harmonics by running the baton around their edges. Their sounds shimmer and glow, deepening our collective state of rest and meditation, particularly after sweating through the contortions the class requires. Sometimes she will strike the three large gongs at the very end, whose resonance continue to reverberate, fostering the peace that falls over the class. There is a discernible shift that happens as we all settle and let the rest of our lives drift on their own for a little while.

My daughter is surprised that I am hooked. I guess I am too, but I cannot get around the fact that much as I like to bicycle or Zumba my booty through an hour, my body is benefitting from the strength and flexibility that is slowly building from yoga. I have not yet completely coordinated my breath to all the movements, but I can see where this will also serve to sharpen the focus and my practice.

It is all humbling. We support one another by showing up, by doing what we can on any given day and by following the instruction of the teacher whose experience and tone set the course for class. This is an addiction I am happy to pursue. Turns out all those folks across the millennia had some remarkable notions about the body/mind/spirit connection. If only I can follow them.

An image of youthful daring nurtured

November 15, 2016

I knew before walking into the gallery that the images greeting me would be spectacular. Even in their mini version online they are captivating: complete, compelling and fulfilling. Rendered large they command the space, emanating a sense of wonder at the beauty that exists on our planet. The lines and color and juxtaposition of hues at once capture a very specific moment in time as well as an eternity, an enduring sense of timelessness. Photographer Seth Resnick talks about his interaction with his subjects both human and not, the exchange of energy that he allows and encourages. This reflects in the mages that emerge. They are rich, full of intention and respect. Paired with glass sculptures by master Peter Bremers, which offer a gorgeous complementary interpretation of similar themes, the exhibit is an extraordinary treat.

I am reminded of a long ago tennis instruction to swing through the ball, not to just meet it. Using the body and a full swing gives the ball much more power and impact. Same with music. Even with an instrument such as piano, where the notes are struck, one can imbue deep meaning by allowing emotion to flow through and convey feeling.

So too, with the click of a shutter a great is transmitted which draws upon selection, pattern, and a sense that is only developed through experience and constant attention.

The added dimension of delight in this exhibit is that I have known Seth since birth. Our mothers were friends who started a preschool when we were three (which we evidently ruled until we left for kindergarten). We spent many contented hours at play and I recall Seth’s passion and zeal for whatever he did. His fascination with rocks was evident as a child and he used the tumbler to polish the stones to a glittering shine. We dragged lawn chairs in front of the house at night to gaze at the sky, and this early devotion to the natural world has clearly carried through to the work he produces today. Seth worked at a pet store as a teenager and created elaborate fish tanks at home, perhaps nurturing his eye for color, form and pattern.

Most fun all is that although we were largely not in the same classes in our enormous high school, we both took photography for the first time as seniors. Our overcrowded school was on split sessions and there were a number of us who enjoyed countless unscheduled hours in the lab perfecting our prints. Who could have known that this nascent time experimenting in photography would be the thread that would power Seth’s career. My own experience in the darkroom was that time became irrelevant, and I would often find that hours elapsed before being willing to stop and take a break.

Seth’s singularity of focus, dedication to his craft, and eagerness to engage with the world have coalesced in the sophisticated artist he is today. His continued fixation with light, texture, shape and openness to understand what he encounters distill the images to exquisite, dramatic moments.

Visiting his exhibit at the Sohn Gallery in Lenox was a deeply satisfying look at a prolific and influential leader in photography today. And for me, it was a reconnection with my childhood pal and seeing how the exuberance of youth, nurtured and developed by family and education can illuminate a path to international expertise. It inspires us to be the best of who we are, open to possibility, embracing opportunity with the confidence that new experience determines who we can be as much as we influence what we find. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Columbus Day’s many meanings

October 10, 2016

My husband and I laughed last October when we learned that our daughter, who was living outside Madrid, would also be having a holiday on Columbus Day. It had not occurred to our rather ethnocentric selves that the country who launched the infamous explorer would take the occasion to mark this anniversary, which we Americans consider a birthday of sorts. Perhaps the clue should be in noticing that Americans include the enormous land mass that runs nearly pole to pole and includes dozens of countries. In fact, a number of countries mark this occasion with varying emphases.

In Spain it is called Hispanic Day, or National Day. Until 1987, it was in reference to Spain’s connection with countries of Hispanic origin. Today it is marked with a flag raising ceremony and military parade. This was to accommodate the Conservatives, who wanted to emphasize heritage and the Republicans, who wanted to highlight democracy. The Bahamas, where it was generally believed that Columbus first made contact, entitle their holiday Discovery Day, while Costa Rica celebrates Day of the Cultures.

We begin to encounter more controversy as we move to other countries. Argentina calls it Day of Race, with some trying to rename as Respect for Cultural Diversity. In Chile and Mexico, it is called the Day of Indigenous Resistance, more pointedly accentuating the fact that while the “discovery” of the Americas brought contact and exchange with Europe, it also brought tremendous conquest, colonization and suffering for many of the indigenous peoples, from which many have yet to recover. In Bolivia, the day is called pointedly, Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America. Diseases were in fact the major cause of genocide because the indigenous people were not immune to what was carried in. Different countries have waged campaigns to change the name of the holiday to varying success.

Columbus could not have known what was to follow his urge to cross the vast sea to the west. Said he, “For the voyage to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics or maps. Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.” Although he thought it was China, it was established as a distinct land mass the year after his death. Columbus brought foods, horses and tyranny along with diseases to the New World, a mixed bag by anyone’s count.

Nothing is all forward motion. There are prices to be paid with any effort to stretch boundaries and push beyond the status quo. I like to think of Columbus Day as a tribute to the notion that we can look beyond where we are. It is always a gain to consider what we can learn from outside the box, because from there we are afforded an expanded view of what rests within. To do so responsibly, it is important to be aware of where we tread, and what the impact of our exploration might be. So many natural parks demand that we leave no trace, and take out what we bring in.

I think of the prime directive of the Star Trek explorers not to change the natural order of wherever they encounter. While this is not possible one hundred percent, it does give shape to the exchange, while maintaining respect for the beings they meet. I hope to hold this kind of vision while I push my own boundaries, and appreciate that Christopher Columbus played a major role in shining a light on these Americas, where I have to privilege to reside.

A new way to view Pinktober

October 7, 2016

I recently commented on an online status of an artist friend who stated that she had been accepted to participate on Top Chef. I was startled and surprised, but given her immense talent as an artist thought it completely plausible that she might have hidden talents as well, and commented this.

Hours later she sent me a private message that since I remarked on her status, she was obliged to tell me that she was not, in fact, accepted to Top Chef, nor did she have a squirrel in her car (something I missed in my excitement about Top Chef participation). Her posting was part of a Breast Cancer Awareness “game.” Anyone who comments is invited/encouraged to continue the hoax and post one of ten untruths including the above two, plus others as provocative as #6 “I’ve decided to stop wearing underwear,” or #10 “I’m getting a pet monkey.” They are all unlikely but to varying degrees in the realm of possibility.

I was puzzled and a little miffed at what I perceived to be a lack of connection to breast cancer. The ten semi-outrageous declarations range from delightful to mildly jolting and none carry the weight or depth of a cancer diagnosis. Certainly it would be cruel and in very poor taste to post untruthfully that someone was diagnosed with any disease, so I suppose this game was one way to evoke the element of surprise. It catches our attention, and we are willing to engage in discourse with someone who asks “#3 How do you get rid of foot fungus?” What then are we willing to discuss when we learn that someone we hold dear has been diagnosed with a serious disease?

Having been on the receiving end of the real thing, I know that there is no complete preparation for such news. No matter the process with ultrasounds or biopsies, there is not a way to stop the stomach dropping news to hear the word cancer in connection with your health. Although life goes into a surreal time warp, protracting and distorting the experience while waiting for next steps, it does in fact march on resolutely, leaving a bevy of feelings in its wake.

Now also learning about people’s responses to breast cancer through my psychotherapy practice, I know that people work through the shock and make decisions about treatment which are often not straight forward or simple. There can be similarities in diagnosis, but not in personal circumstances, or people can be of similar age and proximity to health care, but have radically different severity or type of disease. In addition, when someone has a lumpectomy and radiation, typically the least amount of treatment, she is still dealing with the psychological impact of working through an otherwise deadly disease and a near miss can provoke thoughts about one’s mortality, wishes for life, order of priorities.

A potential gain of the game is the community that Facebook can generate. In the face of upsetting news, the power of the group cannot be underestimated, but one must be ready, and in a position to receive the focus and attention.

If the Facebook “game” helps people to have more compassion for receiving unanticipated news, then the net result is positive, offsetting the confusion and clarification that inevitably ensue.Without knowledge of where the game was initiated or by whom, it is impossible to completely understand the intent. I will assume the head scratching that results is meant to help us all to expect the unexpected. At least they are not doing it in the omnipresent pink that also characterizes this month.

Another day in paradise

If you had told me a month ago that I would dump my beloved WRX in a hot minute, I would have told you that you were crazy. With a mere 125,000 miles, my Subaru was good for another three to four years at least.

Except on my way to work three weeks ago the clutch started shuddering and then squealing and then spouting smoke as I pulled into the service station near my office. “Your clutch is almost certainly gone,” was Sam’s proclamation. I eyed the plaque on his wall which declared “Another Day in Paradise,” a phrase I heard him utter every time I walked past.

Two hours later he called. “Your transmission is also shot. I’m very sorry.” He wouldn’t recommend installing a new one plus the clutch. While I absorbed this he called back, having located a used transmission with only 40,000 miles. Relieved, I picked it up a few thousand dollars and two days later.

It was the shrill whistling on my way home that sounded the first alert. Increasing in volume and pitch as I drove, my heart sank in reverse proportion. After driving it for a week to make sure it wasn’t something that would just go away, I determined that at sixty five miles an hour, the whine was too high to make out. So if I just flew around town I was all set. Sam could exchange it for another used one, but it was a less than subtle nudge to replace my drive.

I decided to buy new since the 25,000 miles the previous WRX owner drove had clearly been the downfall of my otherwise happy vehicle. Thus began the befuddling and vital sifting of the matrix of variables involved in buying a new car, the second largest purchase most people will make in a lifetime. I listed my priorities: new, manual transmission, all wheel drive, responsive (read zippy) engine, good looks and reasonable price. I could get everything I wanted if willing to spend forty grand or more.

At the Nissan dealer I waited for my salesperson to get back to me with numbers on trade in value for my car and incentives on a new one. A woman roughly my age and I trolled for snacks at 6:30 pm on Labor Day Monday. “What are you driving now?” she asked. I pointed to my sporty blue car. “You want a manual transmission?” she looked as if I had just handed her a spider in a jar. “What color are you looking at now?” I had been thinking Cayenne Red, and she blurted out, “I would be bored with that in three months!” And what color was she considering? “Black. In and out.” “I would be bored with that in three months!”I exclaimed and we both laughed. She was deciding between a Mercedes which she said would stretch her budget every month or a Pathfinder which would be easy to do. We all need to listen to our own masters. There’s no imperative. Just the balancing of what’s most important with what’s possible.

I wasn’t willing to strap myself for any car. We ended up side by side negotiating with our sales people. I hope she gets the deal of her dreams, including the 0% financing. I would need to sleep on the generous trade in, plus $500 incentive for my base model Juke with its paddle shifters and installed moonroof.

Monday evening I’ll kiss my WRX goodbye and drive away smiling in my Bordeaux Black (shines eggplant color in the sun) Juke. Another Day in Paradise.