What to do when you’re lost and lonely and sad

One of the perks of living in Asheville — a big one, really — is the opportunity to escape to the mountains anytime I please.

Growing up in eastern Pennsylvania and then eastern Georgia, I never knew about daily life with mountains. My vision and expectations always encompassed a flat horizon preceded by fields and trees.

When I moved to California, I might as well have switched from black-and-white to HD color. I didn’t know people could live next to mountains and water and city skyline. I’d take countless drives out there and just stare at the mountainous horizon the whole time, lost in my head and marveling all the while how I got there.

The mountains comforted me. They protected me from the flat, lifeless beyond, and they challenged me to pursue them deeper. To explore and wander and, as needed, escape. The mountains reminded me there was always more to discover.

Now living in Asheville in the heart of the Blue Ridge, I don’t know that I could ever go back to a mountainless horizon. Despite the challenges of starting over in a new place, it’s been oddly comforting to see a mountainous horizon start with bare branches, then grow leafy and green, then shade to orange and yellow, and now start to turn naked again.

I take monthly or bimonthly escapes onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, and going up there last night was particularly startling: long sleeves, coat, knitted cap, scarf, and mountains and valleys whose once vibrant colors have been sapped.

Gone are the greens. Gone are the yellows. Gone are the signs of summer and autumn as brown and gray reclaim the landscape.

And yet look to the horizon where the blue still remains. The seasons come and go here, and the Blue Ridge refuses to lose her trademark splendor, persisting through the late autumn and winter until the greens return and the heat collects in her hills, her haunting curves of blue anchoring us, comforting us, beckoning us.

Go to the hills, I hear when I’m lost.

Go to the hills, I feel when I’m lonely.

Go to the hills, I say when I’m sad.

Go to the hills. It’s why God painted them into the hue of this blue horizon.

This is Day 6 of #MakeNovemberTolerable. Keep checking back every day this month for new stories and discoveries of beauty where beauty may be hard to find.

  • Marielena

    I have such special memories of Asheville and the Blue Ridge. The hills and mountains were always home to me. Thanks for this share, Tom. I resonated to it from the heart. And here’s a song I would play over and over when that area was a huge part of my life. I think you’ll like the lyrics. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95LY5ioHJwA

  • naturgesetz

    I can stand living where I do — with no horizon visible through the houses and trees — without distress. On the other hand, contrary to the commonly expressed opinion, I find the view of a wide expanse of ocean unappealing. Give me a view across the harbor or a glimpse between buildings.

    My favorite scenery, however, is of green clad ridges receding into the distance, as in your picture. Unlike you, I don’t need it to be constantly available; but feeling as you do, you are indeed fortunate to be living in a place like Asheville.

  • Kirin Pandit

    Love this! I would love to live by the mountains one day. I feel the same about the water. Since moving to Minnesota, I’ve loved staring out at the Mississippi River and all of our lakes. Now I can’t imagine not living near water! I’m not sure why but it’s so comforting!

    • Isn’t fleeing home great? So proud of you and all the adventures you’ve taken / are still taking! Water is so great to look at.