This is all the heaven we got
Right here where we are
This is our
Shangri-La

Excerpt from a song of the same name by Mark Knopfler

Yes, the mythical place known as Shangri-La has been described by poets and dreamers alike as a place where peace is the norm, where each day is pure bliss and all the things that lived there are filled with delight. Where all your needs are met and there is no pain. I don’t know if it’s akin to heaven or nirvana or any other any place else that seems to defies description. It’s a place that doesn’t seem to have a beginning or an end or at least nobody has found them yet.

These days, our little Shangri-La centers around the dining room table. Our Shangri-La is decorated with scraps of cray paper, sticks of glue, crayons, magic markers, scissors, cut up magazines and maybe, most importantly of all, ideas.

The hours that have been spent so far seem to have melted away. Melted away, yes, but certainly not gone. If it was possible for us to grow closer than we already are, I don’t know how, The days were spent in planning and the evenings were spent with the television off and music playing in the back round. They were filled with the wonders of conversation and trading of idea’s and the opening of eyes and the feeling one gets when they do something nice. There were smiles traded back and forth, not as some form of commodity, but as some kind of secret that was being shared. There were quiet dinners and cups of hot chocolate to give us energy. There were snacks available when we needed a break and there was the pleasant feeling of going to bed knowing that the day was not lost. That somehow, something good has been done.

We’ve named many a thing in our little household. Our couch, old and worn in certain places has been called Hidalgo for the many miles of dreams it has carried us through during our many naps. Our car, our car has been likened to Rosinante for the many roads it has taken us down and the many sure to come. We’ve named frying pans like Big Al for the many meals and the full stomachs it has provided us over the years. Every stuffed animal and doll in the house has some unique name of their own to serve as some kind of identifier as to their personality or to where it was acquired. Each pet that has come and gone will be forever remembered by the little name we’ve given them.

This week, the dining room table has acquired a name of it’s own. It won’t be named for the many meals that have been served upon it or for the many puzzles that have been solved over it. No, it will be named for the many memories that it helped provide, the many good times it inspired and for the many good deeds that were done.

Welcome to my Shangri-La…

Shangri-La is a mythical valley of peace and happiness, located somewhere at the western edge of the Himalaya mountains, that was first described by British author James Hilton in his hugely popular 1933 novel Lost Horizon. The book follows how its protagonist, British diplomat Hugh Conway, finds inner peace and a sense of purpose in life after his plane crash-lands in a harmonious valley presided over by a benevolent lamasery. It is likely that Hilton drew inspiration for his Shangri-La from Shambhala, a mythical city in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Since Hilton's novel, the phrase "my Shangri-La" has come to mean a person's place or situation of greatest happiness in life. Several places have been proposed as the site of the "real" Shangri-La, including various valleys in western China, eastern Afghanistan, and northern Pakistan. The truth, however, is that Hilton simply made it up.

"Shangri-La" took on special meaning to Americans during World War II. Following the daring Doolittle Raid on Tokyo by American bombers launched from the deck of an aircraft carrier, President Roosevelt refused to reveal how the bombing was achieved, saying only that the bombers were launched from "Shangri-La" and causing widespread speculation where exactly this "Shangri-La" was. Later, Roosevelt named his Presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland "Shangri-La," the name it bore until President Eisenhower renamed it Camp David after his grandson, and eventually the US Navy christened an aircraft carrier the USS Shangri-La, so that attacks on Japan really could come from "Shangri-La."

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