I hear the rumble of the early morning freight train and listen to it’s lonesome whistle as it treks it’s way through our small town.

There’s a slight vibration on my walls, then stillness again. The train has passed on like another hour in another day in this vast and seemingly endless land of mountains and desert.

Time and space, land and sky are forms and shapes that surround me in unlimited quantities.

I often find it difficult to put this quiet and peaceful world of mine into perspective with that which I see on TV; a human maze of hustle and bustle, trials, tribulations, tragedies crime, politics and on and on.

The vacuum tube on the TV, (if it still has one), pulls my attention right in. It wants me to come join the party and be part of the confusion. I need to be properly programed in thought, behavior and consumerism.

What makes me different from everyone else? Why don’t I have a smartphone, major credit card, student debt, car payments and mortgage?

But I’ve been in that world and played that game. I found it an interesting experience for a while, but I finally decided it held no lasting attraction or satisfaction for me. So I moved on.

I often think of my family in far off places. They too are mainly outside of the turmoil sweeping big cities and high population regions. 

Even though across wide oceans, they keep me abreast of their routines and events in their lives with the help of modern communication technology. I am glad to share their joy and happiness from a distance.

Joy and happiness are qualities that interest me more and more as I age. They come easily in my daily life now. A smile from a friend, the wag of a dog’s tail, the beauty of a golden sunrise; joy.

I never dreamed I would see so many years go by. All my experiences, all the progress and changes I have seen in one lifetime, and I’m still here!

Then at times I think... You know how when you’re in a department store and a salesperson tries to interest you in some product. You’re apt to reply “I’m just looking”.

Well when it comes down to it, I’m not just looking. I’m also just visiting.

I feel like a tourist, a traveler, a student of culture, society and human ways in this world. I want to check it all out. And I find it all ever so fascinating. 

What a unique, strange and wonderful jumbled up planet this is.

Just try to see it from the viewpoint of an off-world visitor. Is it logical? Does it all make sense? Is there any discernable purpose or direction in which we are all headed?

I see most humans as having pure hearts and good intentions, but just going in circles, doing quite well as an individual unit but conflicting with near everyone else.

Look at marriage, family, religion and politics. Just think of the awesome power and potential possible if there was an alignment of purpose rather than conflict and animosity.

Even though the group, the entire conglomerate is a disorganized conflicting mess, still each unit, each individual is unique, special and holds such potential power.

As a visiting observer I look for the brightness, the good and beauty in this world. And I find it everywhere.

I’ve learned so much in this visit of mine. I have come to accept and treasure life’s many joys and pleasures be they great or small. Although I am old and grey, I’m still alive and healthy. I have many friends and pleasant memories that stretch way back in time.

Finding and holding on to the magic of each moment somehow fills and fortifies my life. 

I try to gently share this gift with my friends and the people whose paths I cross.

I hope, dear reader, in some small way, I also share it with you.

Dan O’Connor can be reached at danhughoconnor@gmail.com