Miami – A Glimpse of Being Famous and A Long Look at The Everglades

Yesterday, I returned from a jet-paced spin through Miami, and one of my Floridian adventures was that of floating past the extravagant properties of some of the famous celebrities who have homes in the Magic City. It appears that the Miami’s rich and famous prefer to build homes on Star Island. All of the tracts on Miami’s Star Island are stunning, but after seeing only a few, my thrill disappeared, and I began to numb, feeling that all of the mansions had an unalluring sameness about them. Granted, I only saw the exteriors or the shells of the showplaces that were exhibited, but as I rode past, I ruminated about the phenomenon of fame. I began to wonder if fame itself is little more than a shell-like existence. The experience of riding past the homes of Miami’s most glamorous left me feeling flat.

While I was in Miami, I also took a quick trip through the Everglades, and that experience filled me with wonder.

The Everglades are filled with yellow pond lilies or Spadderdock plants. When I saw the pond lilies, I remembered my childhood summers at Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee. My family had a small place there, and many weekends, we would drive to the Mississippi River and cross it on a little ferry boat and drive a few miles more to our little spot at Reelfoot Lake, which was almost covered by spadderdock plants. When I was a child, I was told that the pond lilies were considered to be a nuisance, but even as a young child, I was spellbound by the expanses of yellow flowers that were suspended–like stars–just above the cool, green waterways that spread in every direction–as far as my eyes could see.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars–How I Wonder How You Are–

Wonder–That is what thrills me, and while the homes of Florida’s rich and famous did not fill me with wonder, the Everglades did.

Purple Pickerel Weeds also grow in the Everglades. There aren’t as many purple flowers as there are yellow in the Everglades, and they grow closer to the shore and rather behind the yellows–or closer to the shore. wI loved riding across the water and picking out the purple plants that were scattered like nougats here and there, all throughout the Everglades. I thought about how purple is the complement of yellow, and I thought about how the purple splashes along the Everglades energize the stretches of yellow. I marveled at the power of color, and I further wondered about the magnificence of nature and about the miraculous fact that God had the foresight to plan for nature’s perfect palette, as he elected to flower his earth. I was humbled by God’s generosity In giving us Nature. Like the air that most of us breathe, Nature is free and not a product or an entitlement of being rich and famous. I looked at the purple pickerel, and I wondered at God’magnificencece.

An osprey was mounted high in a dead tree and was keeping watch over the waters below. I wondered what and how often the osprey eats, and I wondered if, through his razor-sharp eyes, he sees things that cause him to wonder.

At the edge of the shore, almost hidden in tall grass, an alligator was resting, He was motionless, and I wondered if he was alive or if he was a rubbery replica planted there to thrill the tourists who visit the Everglades all day, every day. The tour guide said that alligators are black and not green, and I wondered how I had lived 68 years without knowing that alligators are black. I have always thought them to be green. With that, I wondered about all of the things that I believe and yet, are not based on truth. I wondered about my illusions.

As I look back over my trip to Miami, I realize that Miami’s Millionaire’s Row was not my favorite part of Florida. As I said before, I perceived it as a shell–a fortress that impeded my curiosity. Although Millionaire’s Row has a monetary sticker price of billions of dollars, I was not impressed. Rather, I was delighted by the tall and towering palm trees all around Miami, and I loved visiting the Everglades. While Millionaire’s Row left me feeling empty, the Everglades filled me with Wonder and Curiosity. This makes me think about something that Einstein said when he was talking about the importance of Curiosity:

 Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. – Einstein

Einstein said the above when he was interviewed by a writer for Life Magazine, shortly before his death. Here is the rest of what Einstein said about men of value in that interview :

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.

Never lose a holy curiosity. Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.

I do not believe that Einstein was saying that successful people cannot also be of value. Some very successful people do have that inner kind of value to which Einstein refers. I do not believe that all of the successful lie in a valueless pit, but I do believe that many successful people sell out–they sell short.

My current home in Harrison, Arkansas

I have recently moved from the Jersey Shore–from a 4-story house that I could not afford to maintain–to a tiny cabin on top of the highest hill in Harrison, Arkansas. By financial standards, I have moved from a position of being poor to that of being poorer, but I don’t feel impoverished. God has endowed me with the wealthiness of a questioning mind and with the splendor of a vivid imagination. Money is not the only wealth. One’s imagination and his ability to wonder is a richness beyond the dollar bill:

“…imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” – Einstein

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