Having breakfast with the old timer before he and I went to work on his chimney, George asked if I wanted anything to eat.
"No," I said casually. "I ate on the way here, but thank you."
As I sat there waiting for him to finish his eggs, sausage, and toast, envying his mountain home, I found myself wondering how the old man got to be so old and was still getting around the way he was.
"Do me a favor Ray. Down in the trailer in the back of the lawn tractor there are two black bags. Bring them up here would you?"
Without saying a word I went and got the bags I thought to be unusually heavy. One of them appeared to have blood on it , but I thought nothing of it and returned them to his country cabin kitchen. Estimating they each weighed over forty pounds, I set them just inside his doorway.
"Thanks he said. I'll cut that up while you are working." He caught my inquiring look and proceeded to fill me in.
"I got up to have my coffee this morning," George began, "and this deer was walking up my driveway. Next thing I knew he just died right there. Figured it only right to take the meat off the ole thing." He looked me in the eye for a reaction, and seeing the smirk in his face, along with the model 94 Winchester standing in the corner beside his window I gave him back a smirk of my own.
"Good idea," I said, "Man's gotta eat!"
George Brush was 89 years old. He lived in Goshen, Vermont and much of his time was spent gardening, fishing, and puttering around the old mountain cabin, preparing himself for the next Vermont winter. I had watched him over the past week, walking behind his rototiller in the garden, cutting wood up with a chainsaw, and swinging an axe like he was still in his thirties. I decided to push my luck and ask about his approach to life (fearing he may actually take the time to tell me).
"What's your secret George? How do you do it?"
I didn't have to explain. He knew exactly what I was referring to.
"Well, Raymond, there are probably many answers I can give you. I could give you a long story about all the things people do wrong, and what I did right, but the fact is, it's not about any of that. It's about not being in a hurry. It's about taking your time and trusting yourself because you know what's right for you. It's about getting outside and breathing the fresh air. And of course," he stopped for a second and snickered..."a glass of whiskey around two or three in the afternoon doesn't hurt either." The old man laughed at his own humor.
It's been years now since the old man passed away. I think of him often. He lived into his mid nineties before he died. I think often of the many conversations he and I had and the wisdom that seemed to be contained in every sentence he spoke. How many of today's youth will listen to the elders in their world? How many of us 45+ year olds will pay attention to the wisdom that has been passed to us from people like old George?
Take your time. There is no hurry if happiness is your goal. Don't take yourself for granted, and above all, don't live the life others want you to live because of what they feel is right for you. Before taking the advice of others, think hard about their current personal life. How happy are they? If they are not happy...do you really want to take their advice? However, in retrospect, if they are content, and at peace with themselves........consider why that is.