Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship – Tom Ryan

Some excerpts that move me…

The naturalist John Muir might as well have been talking about my family when he wrote, “Most people are on the world, not in it—have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them—undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.” That was us: touching but separate.

I thought of my beloved Thoreau, who said, “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

Death, like birth, was part of the package of life. She had come to peace with that. It was those of us who were left behind who struggled with it. In contemplating my late friend, I remembered something Mark Twain had said that I’d used in a letter to my father about Vicki’s last days: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence…”

…pantheism was a belief that God was in nature.

…Thomas Merton had said in a talk he gave: “The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless, it is beyond words, and it is beyond speech, and it is beyond concept.

There are some things in life too powerful, too vivid, too life-altering to possibly leave them behind. They stay with you forever. They shape you from that moment on.

“I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering.” I could say the same for our quest, or for that matter,

“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”


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