06/29/2012 07:38 am ET Updated Aug 29, 2012

My Own Private Arcadia


noun, often capitalized \är-ˈkā-dē-ə\
Definition of ARCADIA
: a region or scene of simple pleasure and quiet


Arcadia: a region of simple pleasure and quiet -- a place most of us are attempting to reach psychically, if not physically. Arcadia is a tempting vision in life, a place where we can find peace of soul, a place of beauty, contentment, and pastoral pleasure. A place hard to find, a dream.

But many of us create or find our own private arcadias.

I have.

It is where I go as often as I can, both a physical and a physic retreat, a place where I can revive my soul and my body, a place where I go for long, meandering walks, where I sit on my deck and watch the creek flow by, reading the New York Times or a good book or just sitting with a glass of wine, allowing myself to rest for a moment...

I travel a lot; I always have, it seems. In college I got in my Mustang and drove hither and yon visiting people and places, a restless desire to know the country in which I was living. After moving to Los Angeles, I got a job working for A&E, a job that had me on a plane every week of my life. Then came another job and more travel. A stint at Discovery had me racking up the miles in the hundreds of thousands. Another job and another job and another job, all of them had me on the road. I craved a place to set down some sort of roots, deeper than having a residence somewhere that was home base between trips.

In the summer of 2001, I found a place, a little cottage on a creek, a couple of acres of land, all wooded with the land across the creek owned by a foundation -- a place of quiet, a place of joy, a place where I felt at home more than any other place I had ever been.

It is my own private arcadia, a place that is my home, full-time, as much as anything is full-time in my life. I continue to travel, shunting from place to place. In the last three weeks I have been in Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and, always, at the end of the road, I find myself back in my own private arcadia where I am surrounded by great natural beauty and where I find peace. Peace doing the simplest things. Last week I was washing the windows and almost found it to be an ecstatic experience, a centering in the real from all the intellectual activities that are the basis of my earning a living.

Here, I touch base with nature; as I write this I am facing the creek, framed by trees in their full summer foliage, the only sounds are my stereo and the soft sounds of nature outside. During the day, a family of geese sailed regally up the creek, unaware of the joy they gave me watching them. My own private arcadia.

It is all of this, it is being surrounded by things collected in a lifetime of traveling; it is having things with me that are from my family, my past, my present. It is having three woodcarvings that I bought in a mercado in Honduras when I was young. It is being home.

I am fortunate in the beauty of the place that is my home. But arcadia is found not just in places such as mine, but wherever it is that the soul comes to rest, found in the common chores of cleaning windows, making one's home one's own. We each can have our own private arcadia.

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