Adventures in Northern California



(The picture above is where all the truffula trees have gone. Location: somewhere north of San Francisco. Copyright: my i-phone.)

I spent some time in Northern California this past week to visit my aunt. Most of our time was spent taking long walks and holding deep conversations. I found myself slowing down, looking up, and looking in. I strolled through vineyards and stared at rolling green hills. I felt like I was stuck in that novel East of Eden marveling at the beautiful farmland of California.

There were moments on this trip where I felt fully aware of my surroundings. And honestly, that doesn’t happen often. We moved slowly, stopped to smell the flowers, and enjoyed the beauty of presence. I looked at the hills which were various shades of green. They rolled on for miles in all directions, complete with cattle and sheep that looked like cotton balls splattered across a green canvas.

During our trip, my aunt taught me some great advice. I learned that my aunt notices things. Like everything. Constantly, as we traveled around, she pointed out various types of flowers and trees. She remarked on the beauty of vineyards and forests. I learned that my aunt understands something that is all too easy to forget. As she told me one night during dinner, “This life is a gift; you have to take each day as it comes and enjoy it while it’s here… because one day it won’t be.”

That is a difficult concept to accept.

Life, at times, feels infinite. Perhaps it’s because we get caught in the monotony of it all. We wake up, drink our coffee, go to work, and come home. This is our existence Monday through Friday. It’s a pattern that seems unending. It’s all too easy to feel complacent when we fail to see the beauty of repetition and the gift of another day.

It’s funny how your thinking changes as you get older.  When we were young we were bold, unafraid, and unabashedly confident. We believed we owned the world and nothing could stop us. We fought for what we believed in. I believe it was Plato who quipped, “Why is youth wasted on the young?” (What a statement.) But time has a way of distracting us. Instead of pursuing life with the same vitality, we slowly begin to fade towards apathy.

Moments where we slow down enough to hear the wind in the trees, and smell the fragrance of the flowers, are small, subtle reminders that we are living a beautiful existence.

Because when you really think about it, life is grand. What a ride this is. What a life it is to be alive here and now, open to the wonders of God.

I keep thinking I want to take time to soak in all that life has to offer. I want to be one of those people who notice things. It’s all too easy to miss the wonder that is around us. It’s all too easy to live in the future, missing the beauty of the here and now.

I’m learning it’s okay to slow down and notice things. Perhaps this is the way we unleash wonder in our lives–one small observation at a time.


Leave a Reply


  1. billie

    your aunt Carol has great wisdom ….

    • Stephen Pate

      Yes, she does. I’m a big fan of hers :)

  2. Kiol Zemog

    Your words are like freakin’ poetry dude. I felt like I was relaxing in a meadow just READING your post. Awesome reminder.

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