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Smelling the Cacti

I’ve just returned to Phoenixville PA from a four-month stint as a “snowbird” in Phoenix, AZ.

The contrast between the Sonoran desert landscape and the lush, green, rolling hills of Pennsylvania in the spring couldn’t be greater. It’s not just the difference between the flora and fauna that are so very different. The pace and style of the two places are like night and day. Much of it was summed up for me when we had dinner with a former Philadelphia-area client and his wife, who moved ten years ago to Scottsdale, AZ. “You dress too Eastern,” he told me. Now that I’m back in Pennsylvania, I can see that I may think and act “too Eastern,” too. OK, OK, I do. The realization is causing some soul-searching on my part and goes a bit deeper than the “Western” wardrobe I left behind. Now, I’m well enough trained and experienced in self-actualization to know that “I am not the weather” and that it’s me who creates my own experience of the world. Blah. Blah. But I did find myself being slower, more relaxed and, well, nicer in a place where there were exactly two cloudy days and one rainfall in four months. Maybe it’s the large Mexican influence and the mañana sensibility of the place that seemed to lower my Eastern quotient. I don’t know for sure. But I can tell you that I honked my horn at another driver only once, when he was veering into my lane. After three days here, I can feel the pressure rising and see widespread evidence of it everywhere. Trust me, in Phoenix it’s not necessary to wear a crash helmet when maneuvering a shopping cart through a grocery store. Here, yesterday, I was nearly decked in Dairy, dinged in Deli and mangled in Meat. I’m approaching the end of my sixth decade on the planet. (I know, I know, I don’t look a day over four decades, thank you very much.) In the past two weeks, I’ve had friends aged 55 and 63 die suddenly. My dad passed away at 69. The proverbial bus could be around any corner. So, no matter where I end up living in the coming months and years, I’m going to do my best to smell the roses, cacti, palm trees or penguins. In fact, there’s a pear tree blossoming a few yards from here.

I have some smelling to do.

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