Keeping It Real


When you turn onto the street I live on, there’s a spot on the road that sends your car a-rockin’ and a-rollin’ like a small flat-bottomed boat on a rough sea. The bumpy patch runs along the right side so you can avoid it if no one is in the other lane. Yet I’ve taken to embracing the experience, despite the fact that it can even sway our three-quarter-ton pickup, because it does something remarkable: It reminds me of how fleeting, and tenacious, life is.

You see, the rock ’n’ roll is caused by a tree that is pushing up through the asphalt. Undeterred by the heavy road material, this tree says, “I’m here too and I’m going to keep growing.” The tree is just doing what it needs to do to survive, to be its authentic self. The lesson for me is that long after I’m here, there will be life.

Merriam-Webster’s word of 2023, announced in late November, is “authentic.” The decision was based on a “substantial increase” of searches for the word in what many see as a reaction to the onslaught of artificial intelligence, especially the oh-so-disruptive ChatGPT.


“Although clearly a desirable quality, authentic is hard to define and subject to debate — two reasons it sends many people to the dictionary,” Merriam-Webster said in its press release. It is a synonym of real and often connected to identity (think authentic cuisine), self, and voice. Elon Musk made headlines early in 2023 when he encouraged people to be more “authentic” on social media.

I see authentic as a return to simpler things, to remembering what is truly important as a human being in this fleeting lifetime — keeping your feet on the ground and feeling tree roots.

Or in the case of Trina Paddock, leaving the earth and soaring, in the aerial arts, as it were, at the precious age of 69. This brave soul says, “Love what you have.”

After a rocky start between a ragtag bunch of skiing hippies and law enforcement, Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue grew to be well-respected because the patrollers kept it “real” in the mission to help fellow winter enthusiasts make it home.

One can expand what “self” means by experiencing different cultures, growing connections within the global community, as Mariam Shambayati has done all her life with holiday traditions.

And of course, who better than to teach us about being authentic than our four-legged loyal companions? I’ve heard from countless guardians that every day is made that much more joyous by their dogs’ company because of the canid way of being present and genuine. In return, let’s keep them safe during those beloved winter outings.

In other news, the Moonshine staff is taking a chance to breathe and reflect with a well-deserved break (the next edition will release Feb. 8, 2024).

My husband and I will be defining and redefining what is essential to us in our lives as we welcome our first baby this holiday season. I know one thing on the list: Getting the little one used to traveling over rough roads … while seeing the beauty in doing so.


  • Mayumi Peacock

    Hailing from a U.S. military family and a graduate of the University of Florida, Mayumi Peacock has lived in several corners of the country and globe, yet Tahoe/Truckee has been her home since 1999. She is founder and publisher of Moonshine Ink, the region’s award-winning independent newspaper, which continues to be created by, for, and of the community. Other passions include family, animals, books, healthy living, and humane food.

Previous articleImagitorium
Next articleIf You Want To, You Can Fly