Mel Zuckerman, Canyon Ranch Co-Founder
As I sit down to write this article in early April, I realize that annually, at this exact time of year, I find myself lost in abstract thought about the events of another spring – April of 1978, to be exact. What took place then and the events it set in motion – things that are still unfolding to this day – seem to me to have been indefinable miracles.
If by now, you are curiously asking yourself what I can possibly be talking about, I’ll tell you. It was in April 34 years ago that I experienced a series of Aha! moments – practical, powerful revelations – that changed my life forever, and, I guess, eventually changed the lives of innumerable people. Though I clearly remember all that happened when I visited a California “fat farm” and discovered my ability to transform my own life and health, I still can’t grasp the full extent of those experiences – and how they led to the creation of Canyon Ranch in just 20 months. (Our grand opening – in many ways, not so grand – was in December 1979.) Honestly, I’ve never been able to quite figure out where we found the energy and drive to open the Ranch, or how we managed to survive a series of severe financial crises in the first few years.
Just the other day, Enid and I were contemplating our daily routines at this stage of our lives, with both of us still fully involved in the day-to-day operation of our creation. I could detect some frustration on her part with our 24/7, 365-days-a-year Canyon Ranch life. Imagine having a house and yard to keep in shape, but your yard extends over 175 acres, and you entertain hundreds of guests every week. That’s what it’s like for us: Canyon Ranch is our job, and our home and our purpose in life, all at once. When we look out our windows, what we see is Canyon Ranch. We eat our meals in the Dining Room. The people we interact with all day, every day, are guests and staff of Canyon Ranch. This place is our compulsion, our obsession, and yes, the source of our vitality and joys.
As we talked, Enid said that maybe this 24/7 health resort life we are immersed in was “doing us in.” For the moment she was ruing the fact that it was exhausting and maybe just “too much.” I asked her what she thought the alternative might be. I reminded her that we had tried travel and, for us, it was overrated and we could never wait to get home. Short trips away always end with us making negative comparisons to what we enjoy at home – great food, regular workouts, terrific body work, and most of all, the greatest environment – in both Tucson and Lenox – and the most wonderful people to interact with every day. Our lives clearly are envied, not pitied, by those we come in contact with! As we talked, Enid cracked a smile, nodded, and agreed; we are beyond fortunate.
I’ll never understand exactly how we were compelled to do what we did, but I’ve come to grips with the fact that this mystery of the “transformations” that I experienced 34 years ago must have been energized in some way by the divine. I really feel that our lives were predestined from that time forward. In April of 2003, we had a big celebration of the 25th anniversary of my Aha! experience. I intend to celebrate the 34th anniversary this year, and, I hope, many more – if it is so destined.
So I told my darling Enid, my wife of almost 59 years – our anniversary is June 14 – that we both needed to “suck it up” and celebrate the flow of the life destiny has given us. And so we shall!