I was asked what advice I would give young people growing up. This is what I wrote:
For a young person, and indeed for many adults, one of the most important and difficult things in life is learning to trust your own perceptions and your own judgements.
The world is full of conflicting opinions. It is also full of people who want something from you, or want you to be different from what you are.
It is tempting to go with the flow, and follow the popular opinion, in the hope that this will make you popular as well. But not only does this not work very well, it is doubtful how valuable it really is to be "popular".
It is not easy in the storm of emotions to be objective. But if you keep learning and studying, both from books and real life, you will find things that work for you. Keep at it, it will get easier, slowly but surely.
Yours, Eolake Stobblehouse
Letter of the week, from Michael:
In late September I was driving cross country out to the west coast, and I stopped at one of the National Parks because I've always loved to go hiking up into the mountains to enjoy the silence and beauty. I hike by myself and don't speak - I just become one with Nature by taking in all her amazing sounds and sights. Although I am a 50-year-old man, I am still in good shape and can outpace many younger folks on the mountain trails.
So I chose a trail from the Park map that would take me half a day to cover and which looked like it would be fairly well deserted, and I set out around 10am.
After I'd walked back into the mountain woods for about an hour, I heard something that I was hoping to avoid - two other hikers walking up an intersecting path that joined mine. But when I saw these two young women, the vision was enough to compete with my usual desire for privacy. These were two beautiful college-aged women, tall, ath- letic, tanned, vibrant, with beautiful, flowing hair down their backs, long legs emerging from their skimpy shorts, T-shirts clinging to their full, firm breasts, and smiles that lit up the woods. They were obviously at home in their bodies, and they were also walking in sil- ence, appreciating the environment just as I had been. They were truly a vision that could "compete" with the beauty of Nature herself.
I had an impulse to hide, to simply watch them as I'd watch a deer grazing, or a bear romping in the distance, or a beautiful canyon, but they'd seen me. Strangely, they said not a word, but simply beckoned me to follow them with a hand gesture. So I stepped in behind them and we all walked the trail together. It seemed so magical that I didn't feel I needed to introduce myself or say a word. We just walked in rhythm together, with me at the rear get- ting a magnificent view of their firm behinds as their muscles contracted and relaxed with each step up the mountain.
There was a feeling of sharing something deep together, as though we all recognized in each other a love for silence, and a love for looking out from that place of silence, a kind of shared voyeurism.
After about half an hour of walking it got warmer, and one of these beauties, the one in the lead, very naturally and effortlessly pulled her T-shirt up over her head (in that special motion that only women can do with both arms simultaneously) and tucked it into her waistband. After a minute, and without looking back at me, the second girl did the same thing.
Now I was following two nearly naked women (except for tiny shorts with fanny packs and shoes), watching the movement of their muscles, catching an occasional glimpse of their beautiful breasts moving freely with the cadence of their steps. They knew that I was watching them and they were not bashful or shy - they seemed to be inviting my appreciation. I couldn't tell for sure, but it seemed to me that the more I stared in appreciation at their glorious bodies, the more they felt my eyes on them, the more they put an extra little feminine swing into their hip movements. As though my looking was bringing out their best, their most feminine.
After another half hour we arrived at the high point of the trail, but to my surprise, and unmarked on the trail map, there was a small, lovely waterfall descending into a series of descending pools and then off down the mountainside as a stream again. The two girls must have been here before, because they didn't seem a bit surprised, but walked confidently to the side of the pool and began taking off their shoes - to wade into the pools I supposed. But once their shoes were off, they unstrapped their fanny packs and then stepped gracefully out of their shorts and panties.
Then with the cutest smiles they turned and faced me and just stood there for a long moment, brushing their hair out of their faces, letting me drink in their naked beauty, almost posing for me. Then they turned, stepped into the middle pool, and began to frolick in the waist-deep cool water. Frolick - that is the only word I can think of to describe what they were doing - they splashed, they giggled, they pushed each other, they laughed - like two water nymphs in some classic fantasy painting.
After that day, I never saw them again, but I felt no need to. I felt full, healed, as though I had encountered a pair of angels, very sensual angels, who gave me a great, secret gift. Thank you wherever you are.
Thanks for the story, Mike. I just know that someday I will have to give the outdoors lifestyle a chance. :) (Dang, I have said that before...)