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We have been in mansions and palaces all over Europe. We have visited in Africa with people who live in grass and stick huts. Have driven through areas in India where people are lucky to have a large cardboard box to cover them from the sun.
We have also stood in Primeval forests, the spot the New Zealand Maori call their "garden of Eden". In forests so thick with vegetation, you had to hack your way through with a machete.
And we are asked one question again and again: "If you could pick one place you’ve been where you would prefer to live more than any other, where would it be?" Both Nancy and I would answer without missing a beat, "Right where we are- in our little cabin in the mountains of West Virginia."
Does it compare in beauty to the Taj Mahal. No, nothing else does. By why compare?
Does the forest surrounding us rival the forests of Northern Europe or South America? No, but so what?
The point we are making goes back to that old cliché, "Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home".
Whenever we finish a trip, we always love where we have been, but we are always glad to get back to our place, our own little corner of the world where we have chosen to live. We wouldn’t trade it for the Taj Mahal.
Speaking of trading-
Nancy and I envy no one. Once, at a summer pot luck picnic for members of our local stroke club, I found myself standing in line next to a woman whose husband had survived a stroke, leaving him quite disabled.
"Got to tell you, Betty, Nancy and I really give you a lot of credit. Bill has certainly had a tough go of it, but you handle it all without complaint, without a grumble. You just do what you have to do. Yes, we admire you greatly, but we sure wouldn’t trade places with you." "That’s funny", she said. "Bill and I say the same thing about you and Nancy!"
Perhaps you have heard people say, "G_D never places more load on your shoulders than He/She thinks you are able carry." I guess that's true, because so far, there has not been a load too great for us to bear. Besides, we tend to focus on the blessings, not the burdens. And certainly, as you can see, we have been blessed a great deal.
Actually, you have, too. If you think about it, each of us has been given so many gifts that it is ungracious to complain. One of these gifts is freedom to choose. So choose freedom. Choose to make your own decisions. Choose to not let anyone poke you into that syrup jar or impose limits on your abilities.
And, finally, we hope you will choose to travel. It must be clear to you how much we have enjoyed our explorations; how much richer our lives are because of the places we've been, the things we have done, and the people with whom we have interacted. Life should never be a bore.
We hope you find useful all we have shared with you. Nothing would give us more pleasure than to be a part of enabling you to experience what we have seen and done.
Above all, we hope we have inspired you to let your spirit soar.
Let things happen serendipitously. Open yourself up and be receptive to the world around you. Be free from the judgment of others- those whose well meaning, but unknowing opinions would limit your accomplishments. Free yourself from the fear that tells you "It can't be done". Because we know it can.
Take a chance. Trust in a Force greater than yourself. Have the courage to try new things, new adventures, new challenges. There are possibilities available to you beyond anything you could have imagined.
One of the lyrics from a song in the great Broadway Tony Award winning show, AVENUE Q sums it all up nicely:
"There are cool things to do, but they won't come to you. And who knows? You might even score...
There is life outside your apartment, but you've got to open the door".
Count your blessings? Do we ever!
"Smelling the roses" and enjoying life's gifts: Our entire family- Nancy, Nate, daughter, son, spouses, and our four grandchildren at White Stallion Dude Ranch Tucson, Arizona February, 2005
Permit us, if you will, to leave you with an ancient prayer, the so-called “Triple Blessing of the Teachers”:
May the Lord bless you and watch over you.
May the Lord shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord look toward you and grant you peace.
With all our love and best wishes,
Nancy and Nate Berger