When I was fifteen years old, I learned to backpack with Reading’s Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club. I didn’t own a car. My parents were not interested in hiking. You met at a parking lot every weekend and contributed a dollar or two for gas and hiked all over the area. All the ‘elders’ took me under their wing and taught me how to do every aspect of the sport. They gave me not just a beloved sport and pastime, but a vehicle to a very satisfying life-long occupation. So when one of my hiking buddies dropped dead very suddenly of a heart attack while hiking, my young world was shaken. It was the first time anyone close to me died. To heal from my grief, I wrote hand-written letters to every single person in my life that I cared about and told them that I loved them. I said, ‘I did not one more person vanishing from my life before I had the chance to tell them.”
Decades afterwards, people told me they saved that letter and that they had never gotten a letter like that prior to mine and never afterwards. It’s a pity.
This Thanksgiving, I made up a simple little poem and sent it out to my friends and even some colleagues. (I edited it a bit for my editors). But I still told them they were a blessing. But one came back to me and said…
“Not that this isn’t a nice thing to say, but I’m thinking that your email address might have been hijacked for spamming purposes.”
I couldn’t believe it. Are we so unaccustomed to hearing people express gratitude that we mistake it for spam?
I wrote back and told my editor from Adventure Cyclist Magazine…
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