I didn’t see it coming. For 37 years my “cabin” was home to me,
where my home and heart would always be. I had helped design it, had
it built by a good friend, paid for it, mortgaged it twice, spent holidays,
summers and Christmases in it. I’d gotten married in it. After the divorce
and the crash of my career in Atlanta, I moved back into it… my one safe
haven left in the world.
Had you asked me, I would have told you that I planned on living out my life
in that cabin, in that little town in SW Montana, that you couldn’t budge me
from the place that held so much of my life, so many of my sweetest
memories. I would have told you that this is how it was meant to be, that
we all have a place of resonance that, if we pay attention, guides us, holds
us in that special place, where we find a deep peace and contentment. Yes,
I would have told you all that, and probably more.
So, what happened? What changed? Was I not happy there? Was life boring?
Oh god no. The cabin was an immensely creative place for me… it was a
part of me. In the last eight years I lived there, I wrote several self-published
books, recorded several CDs for friends, and even did a few for myself. I
recorded a few children’s stories and did a few “comic books” from pictures that
I’d taken around the area with my pals. The Tichenors taught me to snowmobile,
I got a 4-wheeler and spent plenty of time up in the high country, both summer
Then what was it that could possibly shake a person loose from his belief that he
was living in his exact center of the universe, and that when it was his time to
go, he could literally walk or crawl to his grave site, to the town graveyard, just
up the hill behind his cabin. Now how perfect was that? Shouldn’t my story
have ended right there?
Evidently not, though I know several people who thought it should have .
But once again, what happened? What changed?? Well, everything.
Montana changed. I changed. And suddenly this concept of “living it out”
in Montana came to a screeching halt. In one life-changing moment, I met
Betty Johnson on-line. That’s right… met her on-line, and the rest is history.
It went like this, basically… we got together, life got better. We went to Hawaii
together, life got still better. I stayed with her in her home in Seattle, met her
family and friends, traveled around Puget Sound and the surrounding
mountains, and fell in love with it… and with her.
She became the love, the companion that I didn’t think was out there in the
world. With her, everything was different, everything was possible. I was 67
when we met, just so you know. By the end of our first year together, I was
already assessing my concept of the perfect life of an aging musician, and
finding there were suddenly newer, better, happier ways to live it out than
I’d previously considered. And because my mantra through life has been to
always “say yes” to a new challenge, I said yes once again, and everything
began changing, in ways I could never have imagined.
So Western Washington and Whidbey Island became my new favorite places.
It was easy… it’s so beautiful here. When someone asks me what I like
about it, the short answer is always, “Well, I haven’t worn long johns here
even once in the last three winters.”
Old age can be a reflective, defining time of life, if we let it be that. If we let it
be, old age can help us discover who we really are, who we have been, and
who we might still be… if applicable. I’ve explored some of those depths,
discovering in the process that I have little to no ambition to change or
challenge… that if I haven’t already done it all by now, it ain’t agonna happen,
man. My goal, my challenge at this point in life is to take good care of my
Betty Ann, and to become ever more compassionate toward my fellow man.
We change, to one degree or another, in spite of ourselves, and with some
of these changes come changes in our perception of things, of what really
matters. Grumpier? Discard it, you have the power. Happier, embrace it!
Unfulfilled? Find it and fix it, or adjust your attitude toward it. See, it all gets
simpler, in time… if we just let it.
This is the view from my cabin in Montana.
This is the view from our home on the island. I love them both, but surprisingly, it somehow became time to choose. And I have chosen.