Winter rain has a cold, lonely feel to it, aided by the starkness of the season. It chills you to the bone. Yet I find the solitude of winter rain comforting – a time for contemplation and reflection on a life both lived and yet to live.

Virginia Tech fanatics will, no doubt, find today’s rain appropriately dreary, matching the football team’s dismal performance Saturday night in Jacksonville where a season of too-high expectations came crashing down in the face of reality as the team just couldn’t make it in the clutch against Florida State. Just as well. Hokie mania, like the Tech football team, is overrated.

A cold, winter rain is a good time to sit in the hot tub and let 100 degrees of swirling water wash away the muscle aches and stress of the day. As steam from the tub hits the cool air it converts back into a mist that falls on your shoulders. Chewy peeks over the edge, curious over what makes these two-legged humans shed the warmth of indoors for a shot of cold air before climbing into the warm water.

On mornings like this, I soak in the tub and watch darkness morph into morning light. For the first time in years, this is not a busy season. Last year, we had just come off the hectic pace of moving out of our home in Arlington and beginning the move into the home here. Two years ago, Amy was in Illinois, closing out her mother’s estate and getting ready to move remnants of her childhood back to Virginia while I began preparations to open the new studio at the Jacksonville Center. In any December of any given year before that I was most likely on a plane, headed somewhere on a nonstop life that now seems so far away.

The biggest question we both faced when moving to Floyd was whether or not an adrenaline junkie could settle down in a life without travel, excitement and the need to always be where the action was.

Now, as I sit in the hot water while a cold rain falls around me, I wonder why it took so long to make the transition. The life that we both feared I might miss is now only a distant memory, part of a life lived on the edge for a long – perhaps too long – time.

No, not too long. Just long enough. As with any life lived for the moment, without benefit of plan or direction, there are things one might do differently but, for the most part, I’d travel the same path again. We can bitch and moan about the cards dealt to us and we can second-guess our life decisions but, in the end, life is what we make of it and the only ones who really controls our destinies are ourselves.

I’ll leave the philosophical implications to others. I didn’t come here to ponder the meaning of life or worry about global warming, bird flu or man’s inhumanity to man (and woman). We came to enjoy the remaining time we have left here on earth and reap the benefits of lives that, while imperfect, were – and will continue to be — well-lived.