Ozone Falls, TN

I haven’t told you about Ozone Falls! It was a place off of Interstate 40 that Scott told me I should check out on my way over to Nashville. It’s right off the highway; however, it’s tucked away in some foliage and sandstone, so it makes you feel like you’re far away from reality. The crazy thing is you can walk directly up to the falls. As in, you are standing at the point where the stream falls 110 feet over the rock into a deep blue, rock-strewn pool. A ‘rugged ¾-mile trail begins along the bluff near the falls and then descends into the gorge passing a small rock house called Gamblers Den. The trail follows Fall Creek to the confluence with Renfro Creek where hikers must backtrack to return to the trailhead’. That sound fancy, but I copied it from a website.

‘Ozone Falls is situated on the eastern edge of the Crab Orchard Mountains on the Cumberland Plateau. Legend has it that the area was named “Ozone” because of the “stimulating quality of the air” created by the mist that is generated after the long plunge of the water. In the 1800’s, grist and sawmills had been built above the falls. The last one was washed over the falls during a spring flood in 1900.’

Haha, that’s kind of hilarious – the stimulating quality of the air, not sawmills being washed over the falls. That’s scary. Sort of like how I was literally laying over the edge of the falls, staring over a hundred feet down to my death.

But that wasn’t the point of this story – to just share the scary-ass part of it. What was crazy was the moment I shared, by myself. I lay there, shaking with anxiety, and I forced myself to lay upon the sandstone, with it’s slightly downwards tilt, and stare out over the falls. The water was falling over the rocks about an arms length away from me, on my left. And I was part of the landscape; it was almost impossible to believe that I wasn’t going to slide right off the cliff like the water was, and it took all my strength to force myself to stay there for a while.

It seemed like minutes, but it was probably about 45 seconds before I allowed myself to move away from the edge. The way I saw it, who knew when I was going to have an opportunity like that again – to be hanging on a precipice, safe but somehow in such an extreme position, completely alone, and enveloped by the landscape.

It was basically a spiritual experience. And it rocked. 🙂

CMA Music Festival, Nashville

Never thought I’d hear myself say this, but in this case, Keith Urban says it all:

“The sun is shinin’
And this road’s still windin’
Through the prettiest country
From Georgia to Tennessee
And I got the one I love beside me
My troubles behind me
I’m alive and I’m free
Who wouldn’t wanna be me.”

I was sitting in the stands of LP Stadium this past Friday night when I heard Keith Urban sing these lyrics. It was about my millionth time hearing them, but never directly from his mouth, and never with such meaning behind them.

Keith Urban was the surprise performer for the Friday night concert of the CMA Music Festival (formerly known as FanFare). And I was there, in the stadium, after dreaming of such a thing for over ten years. And the funniest part was that I had no idea the CMA Festival was even going on this weekend. And after dreaming about something for so long, here I was, right in the midst of it.

Life has certainly been good to me these past few weeks.

However, if we take another look at the lyrics, we can begin to understand why they had such an impact on me this time. “Through the prettiest country / from Georgia to Tennessee” – Never before had the roads leading from Georgia to Tennessee ever really meant anything to me, but having driven a two-lane highway between those two places just the other day, and experiencing the beauty of it, those lyrics suddenly held a universe of meaning within them.

And then it says “I’ve got the one I love beside me” – before, listening to this, I would say no I don’t and therefore life is lame, but you know who I had beside me?? I had Panda there, sitting beside me on those winding roads, and that makes me smile – “I’m alive and I’m free.”

And then the final line – “Who wouldn’t want to me be?” Never before have I heard those lines and really believed them to apply to myself. However, in the past month I have heard from more people who are envious of me, who say they would give anything to be me. I am living a dream that the majority of people keep right there- in the world of dreams, and never fully realize. Never bring to reality.

These days, life is almost so real I can barely believe it.