I haven’t been here lately. I haven’t written and I have not read. I have fallen victim to my own lack of focus, my own pattern of distracted behavior. It’s not that I don’t want to be writing-I do. I have several half completed, partially edited essays on my laptop and a handful more in the Notes app on my phone. Ramblings I’ve dictated to myself while I am driving that I fully intend to turn into something later-when I have time of course. (ha!)
But I have been busy. I am still creating, still opening my heart, still trying to convey a message, or messages, just with a different medium. I have picked up my camera after years of letting it catch dust or taking the obligatory pictures of birthday parties and bedrooms. These days I am taking pictures of animals, mostly for the local shelter here. I am trying to capture the personality of the cats and dogs that need homes, to help them shine and show their heart. I roll around in the grass with them with my camera at all kinds of crazy angles trying to get just the right look-the look that says ‘take me home’. It is rewarding and fulfilling in ways I have not felt in years.
I have been taking pictures of this new life I am living as well. Four and a half hours now from the coast, I am surrounded by hills and farms and landscape that takes my breath away on a daily basis. In doing so I have been learning about my camera, my eye, my town and myself all at once. I have found a part of me I thought I had lost and finally a part of me that makes so much sense. I have been trying to squeeze myself into a mold-a career, a lifestyle that was the wrong size all along. I have finally realized I don’t have to ‘be’ anything. I just have to live this life. LIVE IT. The rest will come. It is coming.
Every week I take my camera out for a drive. I don’t turn on the radio, and I don’t answer my phone. I roll the top down on my little convertible and for an hour or sometimes more, I drive around and get lost. Sometimes, really lost. But that is when we are found, isn’t it? I believe it is.
This past weekend my husband and I took the Miata up to the mountains. We drove with the top down almost the entire weekend solid. We had my camera in tow just about as much. We drove in silence, listening to the wind, the road, the trees and our thoughts. We never even turned on the radio. We looked around at everything, pulling over so often it took us twice as long to get anywhere. We were in no hurry and had no plans. We smelled every flower, every field, every farm and every cookout we drove past. We even smelled the rain as it started.
I have read a ton of books on being authentic, being present. I’ve listened to podcasts and apps on mindfulness. At the bottom of my worst days they each have helped me through-teaching me how to let go of anger and bitterness, fear and anxiety. I have met women who inspire me and empower me and ended my struggles with those that do not. But this weekend, driving those roads and looking out at the glorious views with my husband of nearly twenty years by my side, was the first time I have really felt it down to my core, in my heart and soul, into my bones and back. I mean felt IT. Present. Authentic. In the moment. Peaceful. All of those catchphrases that we pin or post, I feel like I embodied every single one.
This weekend wasn’t a big romantic gesture, no grand plans for candlelight dinners or expectations of roses and jewelry. I have come to a place where I don’t need, or care for those things. It was just to get away, to connect with each other after months of running-or has it been years? Yes, probably years-with kids and jobs, health issues and even a lawsuit-it has surely been years. And while I thought I needed a big grand plan-an island in the Caribbean, a week at least, a plethora of fruity drinks and someone to wait on me hand and foot-it turns out I don’t need any of that. THAT isn’t what touches my soul anymore.
It’s funny what life teaches you if you are listening, if you are looking. I can’t put a number on the amount of lessons life has taught me these last few years-it would be impossible to count. I can only say that I am thankful that my eyes were open.