When I Was Young in the Mountains, as short as it is, reminded me of a number of things.
First, it reminded me of the importance of family. It’s obvious in the book that Cynthia Rylant has fond memories of her childhood and great adoration for her grandparents. As I read it, it brought back many memories of my childhood and of my Grandma Daisy.
Second, it reminded me to be proud of where I came from. Our past helps define who we are in the present and in the future. There was a time when I all I wanted to do was get the heck out of Tazewell and never come back. I did get out, and I’ve been gone for eight years (and yes, I go back at least once a year to visit my family), but I do miss it sometimes and have very fond memories of this little town and the region where I grew up.
But the biggest lesson I gained from this book is to be happy with what you have. In the book, Rylant says she was happy right there in the mountains. That’s where she wanted to be more than anywhere else in the world. As I was thinking about this, it made me take a step back and appreciate what I have right now: A wonderful family, a loving and supportive husband, a beautiful daughter, a great job and co-workers, a house to live in, plenty of food to eat. I suffer from the “never being satisfied with what I have” disease. As soon as I start feeling comfortable with something, I want to learn a new skill or try something new or do something different, which is not necessarily a bad thing. This attitude has helped me be successful in life. But at the same time, it’s nice to sit back, take a deep breath, take a look at what I have right now and realize that life is pretty darn good. It’s so easy to think about all of the things you don’t have and of all the rotten things that have happened, but When I Was Young in the Mountains helped me remember to appreciate what I do have and the people who are sharing this journey with me.