Before I left for my cross-country adventure to California, I took a few days off for some rest and relaxation, and stayed at my friend’s mountain retreat, located 20 minutes from Woodstock, New York, in the heart of The Catskill Mountains. Onteora Mountain House was originally a hunting retreat built by the mayonnaise mogul, Richard Hellman on the advice of his doctor. At the time, Hellman’s mayonnaise empire was expanding exponentially, and he was typically over-worked and stressed keeping up with his brand’s rapid growth. Hellman did live to a ripe, old age of 78.
My friend and his partner later purchased the property with the intent of re-purposing the old retreat into a bed and breakfast. Due to the majestic mountain views and the naturally serene and secluded nature of the property, they were later approached by guests to host weddings. They soon obliged, and it wasn’t long before Onteora grew into the premier wedding destination site of the Hudson Valley.
I arrived there around dinner time, after a long drive from New Jersey in the cold, dark night, and couldn’t wait to settle into some cocktails, conversation and a hot meal. No other guests were present during my stay, so we had carte blanche to party without restraint.
I had the pleasure of first visiting Onteora in 1992. On this particular visit, I was blown away by some of the realizations and epiphanies I received. The area definitely possesses strong medicine, as the natives say. One of the more profound messages stated, “Suffering is self-chosen. People tend to give away their power to circumstances, no matter if they are real or perceived.” Remaining in an undesirable situations such as an unfulfilling career path or an unhealthy marriage is self-imposed. It’s typically the fear of change that keeps most of us stuck and suffering to some extent.
Prior to my visit, I was also feeling a bit stuck due to a project or two that was still slow to ramp up. My real takeaway from this trip occurred when I was in my guest room on the final morning. After admiring the mountains from the window view of my room, I turned away and caught the sight of the large, iron clock resting on the opposite wall above the bed. The clock was fashioned with an inner and outer circle, held together by the Roman numerals welded onto the circular frames to create the actual clock. The clock was strange —it possessed no hands.
I said to myself, “No time….there’s no time…like…the present.” I didn’t waste another second, and finished collecting the rest of my belongings. I was soon on my way back to Jersey, knowing full well that there was no legitimate reason for me to keep stalling certain dreams that I have wanted to make reality for some time. There’s never the “perfect time” to begin, change or end something; just go and do it. You’ll be surprised at how those little baby steps eventually add up to big accomplishments and an even bigger sense of fulfillment and gratitude.
Jerry Dean and Angelica Pat Sanshompoo, Publishers