Life is so full and so very varied right now and I am finding myself struck constantly by insights and wonderings and scribbled down thoughts, trying to capture the fleeting ideas and feelings before they have a chance to shift and settle. A little sample of my current meanderings:
- I started training with a rafting company this week. It’s been over a decade since I worked on whitewater full-time and I’m struck by how differently uncomfortable it is to re-learn something you were once good at, something that once came as almost second nature than it is to learn something as a true beginner. Also, how bizarrely memories that I didn’t even know were there can flicker by with such potency at a sensory experience…as I lifted a raft yesterday at the take-out, the exact combination of ankle-deep ice water, the motion of lifting, the smell of river water and cold rubber, and the the trickle down my neck as the raft dripped overhead all combined to nearly knock me off my feet as I was, for the briefest of moments, once again 22 years old on another river, a different me. And then it was gone again and I was here, heart filled with getting to know this slice of moving water, this me. It’s challenging and wonderful and I freaking love it.
- A dear friend lost his dad mere weeks after a cancer diagnosis and I am struck anew with the thought that grief and loss are the real “adulting.” Learning to cook for yourself and do laundry are great, but it’s these kinds of things- losing a parent or watching helplessly as they decline, learning to be a friend and true support when someone you care about is in pain (without turning to cliche phrases that are trite and unhelpful…don’t you DARE ever tell someone that their tragedy happened "for a reason”), figuring out what things in life we can “get over” and what things we simply must learn to carry, that are the real work of adulthood. And this “adulting" is so much harder and more complex than sorting whites from colors, it’s raw and messy and deeply uncomfortable and there is no running from it. My heart hurts for my friend and his family and for all of us trying to figure out how to step into this part of adulthood with courage and compassion and honesty. This shit’s hard, y’all.
- We cooked for a guest the other night and realized that it was the first time we’d cooked for company since moving into our camper. I also realized that I miss mixing bowls and multiple burners. We’ll figure this out.
- The campground we’re staying in is having some plumbing issues that have resulted in a gigantic ditch being dug in our space. It sort of sucks and is going on longer than anticipated and has randomly required that I attempt to work while a backhoe operates inches from where i’m sitting. But as I woke this morning to workmen discussing plumbing RIGHT outside my window well before 7:00am, I also realized that I am slowly becoming more easy-going and more adaptable, which was something I’ve known for awhile that I could use some work on. This life in general has required that I be flexible in ways that were never necessary when I had real walls and my own internet connection, and I’ve always required a combination of routine and SILENCE to do my best work, which simply isn’t often possible now. And I’m adapting- I’m able to tune out noise and recover from disruption on a level unprecedented in my old life, and I’m better than ever before at letting go of one set of plans for my day when they become unrealistic under the actual circumstances and moving on to other tasks with less frustration. Making strides…go me.
- We spent the day in the small mountain town of Truckee, CA the other day. It’s a delightful place, even when crowded with tourists, and you should definitely stop there for ice cream and a walk-around if ever you find yourself this way.
- I saw a great horned owl and an osprey yesterday. I’ve come to be very interested in birds. We were gifted with the company of several western tanagers in our last stop before Reno and their bright yellow just filled me with cheer. Also, there’s an essay in Mary Oliver’s newest collection of essays, Upstream, that has colored my view of the great horned owl…read that book. No, don’t read it- savor every one of her perfect turns of phrases…good lord that woman is brilliant.
- Speaking of books, I’m reading Hundreds and Thousands again and I am finding myself so bolstered by her struggles to create something meaningful. If an artist with Emily Carr’s vision and talent had to work that hard and could get that frustrated with what she perceived as her failures or shortcomings, then I just can’t feel so badly at the great effort it takes on my part to try to grow and say something worthwhile in my work. And I’m reminded again how much growth comes out of the “failure” and how important it is to step away from the temptation to compare myself and my work to others. If she had trouble back in the 1930s not comparing herself to art that required days on a train to view, then it’s no surprise that I struggle with it when I’m inundated with the vast talents I can view at my fingertips online. And there’s no use for it either way. As another genius Emily put it: “I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.”
- My favorite new (to me) blog to follow is Full Grown People. If you haven’t seen it, check it out and subscribe (and donate...the woman behind it does the work of curating these essay for free). The variety of voices and stories are so often poignant and funny and make me feel less alone in this search for meaningful living. Really good stuff and a much better way to spend time online than scrolling Facebook for yet ANOTHER million minutes.
- A bunch of other stuff I can’t remember right now but totally meant to share…it will come to me later...
A few more shots from our time in Big Bend…I haven’t spent as much time at my computer editing as planned, too much to explore and discover in this new home, but I’ll get there, I promise...