Family Matters

Family Matters

We’ll Never Be Here Again: Stopping to Listen on a Late-life Passage

By Mary Pipher

July/August 2015

Jim and I just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary by taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest. We travel differently than many of our friends, avoiding cities and crowds and instead seeking out the wildest, remotest places we can find. Once there, we spend our days hiking and sitting, just looking at beauty.

On this trip, we always slept beside water, and we visited every old-growth forest or rainforest we passed. We stayed three nights in Olympic National Park lodges, then traveled by ferry to Vancouver Island. We drove to Tofino and later to Hornby Island, off the east coast of the island.

Our first two nights were in a cabin at Kalaloch. We were perched high on a cliff over a misty beach strewn with driftwood and shells. Just after we arrived, I walked down to the beach alone. The area was empty—just me and the seagulls—but as I walked along the tide line, I noticed that someone had written the word NOW in big letters in the sand. It couldn’t have been more apt. NOW is exactly where I wanted to live for the next 11 days, not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, but living in the senses, savoring the present moment.

The next few days we explored tide pools and found starfish, anemones, and hermit crabs. At night we’d watch the sun set over the Pacific, then start a fire in our cabin’s fireplace and listen to the ocean, which sounded ready to roll right through our open front door.

Mornings, we’d make sandwiches, fill our…

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