Tag Archives: travel

Old Man Winter …

is on the warpath.

I guess this is the moment where he shows everybody just who is in charge.

I feel a little guilty complaining about the possibility of single digit temperatures while other places are looking at negative double digits on the mercury scale.

But only a little.

Cold is cold, wherever you are.

Here in Southwest Virginia, single digit temperatures are rare.  We don’t usually have to worry about getting frostbite on our fingers and noses as we walk from the house to the car.

It is a bit of an adventure, actually.

As a photographer with a healthy dose of wanderlust, this gives me a taste of winters elsewhere without actually going anywhere.

Not that I don’t want to go.  I mean, experiencing a Minnesota winter or feeling the wind chill in Chicago would be quite the thrill and, ones I hope to experience first hand at some point.

Ice fishing and snow shoes are things that live and play in the back of my mind just as dreams of July in New Orleans and August in Dallas make me swoon.

Live like the locals live, see it first hand, feel the heat or the cold or the rain or the snow or the wind.  That is part of what being a photographer is about, at least to me.

I want not only to see the things God created, but to feel them, immerse myself in them, find my coping mechanisms as I’m challenged by the diversity of His wonders.

It makes me who I am and I’m cool with that.  Being born a Sagittarius was just a bonus.

For now, though, stay warm folks because Baby, it’s going to be cold outside.

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The end of the beginning …

is here.

The end of the first day of the year, that is.

A day when many will implement their newly made resolutions only to give up on them in a few days.

What is it about midnight on the eve of the dawning of a new year that makes people promise things they don’t intend to do?

I’m as guilty as the rest of humanity.

But not this time.

Not this year.

I am making no resolutions of any kind.

I am going to take each day, each moment; each good, bad, unbelievable, mediocre, mind-blowing, life-altering, emotion shattering, ego-bursting, uplifting, encouraging, incredibly beautiful, intensely disheartening, inspirational, creative moment as it comes.

When it comes.

Living life.

In real time.

Jesus has my back and for me, that is enough.

I didn’t start this day on resolutions, instead, I started it outside, under a cold, blue sky.  The cold was painful, but the beauty of creation in the winter made me forget, for the most part anyway, that I was cold.

It was a good day to be alive.

Icicles hanging from the Gorge walls … Guest River Gorge trailicicle

Little Stoney, full from recent rainslittlestoney_jan14

Light at the end of the tunnel … Guest River Gorge trailguestgorgetunnel

The forks of Guest River … whitewater rafting in its primeguestriverfork

The Bridge over Guest Riverguestgorgebridge

Going to work tomorrow …

is a chore.

I wonder, sometimes, if I can be a nurse for next twenty years, until I can retire.  I have a  hard time envisioning it.  A hard time seeing myself there.

For twenty more years past the twenty-five that I’ve already given.

Seeing the harshness of humanity, the sickness, the sorrow, the depravity … the death.

It is difficult for me when all I dream of is traveling and taking photographs.

I want, first and foremost, to see my own country, and then Ireland and then all of Europe; Germany in the springtime.

I have dreams.

I have aspirations.

I am too soft-hearted to be a nurse … to see the suffering, to feel the suffering, to hold the suffering unto myself.

I bring it home with me.  I dream of it.  I cry for those who cry.

I sometimes think I don’t have the strength or the courage to do what I do and yet, I cannot turn my back on those who cry on my shoulder.

I feel overwhelmed, at times.  I feel inadequate at others.  I am only me, but still, I am called to be more than I feel I can be.

I pray with them.

I don’t know what else to do.

My life experiences, many of them troubled and harsh, give me an insight into the suffering that these people who lean on me need.

I hope I am enough.

I fear that I cannot measure up.

I want to encourage them and know, that somehow, through my own discouragement, I can help them.

I continue to pray that I can be a part of the answers they seek.

I see the fear, sorrow and uncertainty in their eyes.  I know their pain, I have been through the fire and I can relate.

But I’m not sure I can continue to face that every single day.

Not sure I have the strength to carry the burdens of those I seek to encourage.

No certain that I even want to.

And yet, I cannot abandon them for their tears touch me so deeply.  I succumb to their sorrows and find myself weeping in the wee hours of the morning for that which I cannot alter.

I have told myself many times that, in my heart I am photographer and while that is true, also,  in my heart, I am a nurse.

And I know now, that no matter where I go, or what I photograph, the love for humanity will always take precedence.

I will always, whether a recognized photographer or not, be a nurse.

It is the burden I bear.

And I bear it with confidence that I, in some small way, can bridge the chasm.

I want, whether through photography or nursing, to make a difference …

If I can’t, then I, on all sides, have failed.

I don’t want to be a failure.

A young praying mantis sits in the sun of early summer

A young praying mantis sits in the sun of early summer

I’ve recently returned to Earth …

from a musical journey that altered the perception I have of music and, perhaps more importantly, the percipience I have of myself.

A few months ago, I was introduced to the musical genius of Gustav Mahler.  I was taken aback by the way his music touched me, moved me and the joy that it brought to my soul.  The profound effect that it had on me was, however, inexplicably isolating; moreso, in some ways, than the other eccentricities that keep me balancing just on the cusp of the world around me.

I had a burning desire to share the brilliance and excitement of it.  I found, though, that I could no more explain the way it touched my spirit than I could the way that words and images fill me up.  After a time, I spoke of it less and less and held the wonder of it inside myself like a caged bird.  I spent many nights lying in bed thinking of it and praying that when the morning dawned, comprehension of its magnitude would become evident.

I made plans to attend The Cleveland Orchestra for their performance of Mahler’s First Symphony and thought I would go mad waiting for the day to arrive.  Having listened to tens of dozens of hours of his compositions, I was, in my mind, prepared for what I would experience; I wasn’t even close.

From the first bars, I was riveted.  The music soared through the grand concert hall, covering me with a power that I simply wasn’t expecting.  Hearing it performed live was like nothing I could have imagined.  It moved me so esoterically that I wondered, at times, if I would lose control completely and be asked to leave.  I was overcome with emotion and was left, by the end of the concert, beautifully, wonderfully, unimaginably drained.

For a time, I was unable to speak more than a few words about it as it swirled and churned inside me, weaving itself into the very core of my being in a way I didn’t realize was possible.   At some point during this time, I was reminded that to fully understand music is to have no real understanding of it at all.  It is its own language and changes even as it stays the same.

I ascertained that sharing the overwhelming impact it had on my life was irrelevant for even if I could put my thoughts into words, the intimacy I shared with the music was mine alone.  I was, in that singularly, enlightening moment, set free from my own expectations.  I knew then that I didn’t need anyone’s understanding of my perception of the music or how it moved me or touched me or sustained me.

I was, in an instant, irrevocably changed for the better and for that, I am thankful.

ClevelandOH-34

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise ~ Psalms 98:4

an exciting or remarkable experience …

is how Merriam-Webster defines adventure.  I believe that to be an apt definition and find myself in such situations regularly.  I love driving along deserted country roads where flowers spring up in the hot days of summer.  Putting the convertible top down and heading to the high places with the sun on my face is sheer ecstasy.

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I have favorites; roads, bridges, trees, rocks, trails.  I love them all, but I do have favorites.  Often, I start to one place and find that, without actually being aware of it, end up somewhere else entirely.  It is these times I like best for I end up where I need to be to find that which I seek.  Sometimes it’s a photograph, other times, it is nothing more than silence ensconced in the beauty and rhythm of nature.  In these places of solitude, shadow and light, I think my thoughts and dream my dreams.  These are the quiet, lovely adventures that leave my mind clear and my body strong.

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I can’t compare my solitary escapes into the wilderness to the whirlwind trips to D.C, St. Louis, New York and Las Vegas.  Those were very different adventures.  They were full of noise, lights, crowds, smells and frenetic energy.   There was no peaceful silence or slow, lazy days.  In those places of chaos, shadow and light, I tried very hard to hold onto my thoughts as the world unfolded before my eyes.   While in Las Vegas, amidst all the opulence and grandeur, there was a welcome respite; a drive through the desert and across Hoover Dam.  That was an awesome experience.  Even with my mind boggled and my body tired, it was awesome.

stlouisarch

I’m certain that none of what I have experienced thus far will be comparable to the one I am on the cusp of experiencing.  I am going to a place I’ve never seen in a city I’ve been before.  Lord willing, I will have an orchestral experience that has the real potential to blow my mind with its magnitude.  I haven’t even left yet and I already feel altered somehow.  I suppose it is the excitement.    This era of my life is a precious window; my time, my place.   I don’t plan to waste a minute just watching it pass.

NYCchinatown

I am just as at home everywhere …

as I am in only one place.  As I look over the past several years and think of the places I’ve visited, it occurs to me that the short stay I had in those various cities and towns, in the air and on the roads simply wasn’t enough.  I needed more time.  Weeks.  Months.  Not just days.  There were things I didn’t have time to experience, time I wasn’t able to spend wandering around in and absorbing that which, although unfamiliar, was as familiar to me as my own backyard; people I didn’t get to meet and sit down with.  There was food I didn’t get to taste and sheer beauty, of which, I wasn’t able to become a part.

I suppose such words are those that only one with wanderlust can understand.  Everywhere feels like home, at least for a time.  The people are different but so similar, the air smells different, but is, again, essentially the same.  The roads all lead somewhere, the sun rises, the sun sets, the moon shines, the stars twinkle and even though I haven’t actually seen it yet, I know it is will be beautiful.  There really isn’t anywhere on earth that I can think of that I could lay my head and not, at least for a bit of time, feel at home.

Last night, I started driving for no other reason than to be somewhere other than where I was.  I was driving West.  No radio.  No sound at all except my wheels on the road and the thoughts in my head.  It was very cathartic.  After about one hundred miles, though, instead of continuing on until I came to another ocean, I turned around and headed from whence I had come.  It wasn’t my time to go; not yet.  While my family and friends are perplexed by my consuming need to go, I know in my heart that there will come a time that I will leave them.  It won’t be easy, but it will be necessary if I am to fulfill what has been predestined for me.

That sounds so mystical, but it isn’t.  I have dreamed of it my entire life.  There is nothing mystical about hoping to see a life-long dream fulfilled.  I sometimes feel selfish when I think this way, but I have to remind myself that there will be no one else to live the dreams I dream; no one but myself.  I will follow the will of my Father God where His wind takes me and I will do my very best to honor Him no matter where I lay my head.

There are so many places I want to go; some I’ve already been and want to go back again.  I don’t care, really, if I have a place, other my car, to rest when I get weary.  Where I stay is the least of my concerns; what I see, though, well, now, that’s a different story altogether.  It isn’t that I’m not content where I am, it is simply that there is still so much of creation that I want to see.  No, that isn’t right. If I only wanted to see it, then it would just be a passing thing.  I need to see it.  To feel it. To breathe it.  To taste it.  To touch it.  To stand in it; whatever “it” may be.  And need surpasses want on every level.

I consider the people of the world to be my family and friends.  I don’t think of them in colors, religions or nationalities.  They are just people.  We are not, in our hearts and dreams, dissimilar.  I suppose some of my optimism spills over into what I perceive the world to be, but at the end of the day, I need to know, to learn, to experience.  I want to see for myself and not rely on the eyes of another to mold my perceptions; not live vicariously through the stories that have been told.

There will come a time, if God wills it, that the places of my dreams will become places of my reality.  I can wait, for nothing  truly worth waiting for is time wasted.

beachday1 542

Proverbs 3:6 ~   in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

 

When the words I dearly love mean nothing …

then I know that I am in a fix.  The words are there, the right words, but they are so jumbled and discombobulated that when they come out, they aren’t right.  They are harsh or meek or, worst case scenario,  make no sense at all to anyone but me.  I lash out at the ones I care about for no good reason at all.  I expect them, since they know me, or say they do, to understand, but it doesn’t make it fair.  It doesn’t make it right.

Right now, at this moment, it takes all of my concentration to simply string words together in a coherent sentence.  Knowing this and knowing that I have conversed with people I care about about in my current state of mind brings about something that, while I am adept, they really have no experience with.   I was told recently by a friend that they were sorry they caused me anxiety.  I don’t have anxiety, I have racing thoughts that, at times, coincide with an intense “non-emotional” state.  It isn’t sadness.  It isn’t depression.  It is simply the absence of emotion.  And the absence of emotion is never, ever a good thing.

I called my mom tonight just to hear her voice. She doesn’t try to fix me or offer advice, she just listens as I tell her how nuts I feel.  And I do feel nuts, whether I really am or not.  That still remains to be seen.  She listens to my thoughts and says to me “we’re here if you need us”.  And she means it.

When I told her I had to get out of here for a while, she didn’t question it, but only said to let her know where I was going.  I have no idea where I’m going, but the ocean is calling to me.  The ocean, it is said, has no memory.  That is what I’m looking for.  Something without a memory.  Something that will not recall the harsh words, sobbing tears or indifference that, over the past few days, I have felt.  Maybe I will make it there and maybe, by the end of the week, I will be back to myself.  Either way, I cannot stand to be here for a second more than is necessary.  And dumping on the people in my life is not the answer.  I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that doing so is not it.

After work on Friday, I will start driving.  What direction is, as yet, unknown, but I will drive until I get where I am going.  And once there, I hope I will find what eludes me at the moment.  Sanity.  Pure and true sanity with a calm mind and rational thoughts.  I will let my  mom know where I am because she asked me to; as for everyone else, there seems no real need.  I am an anomaly in their lives.  I don’t hold it against them. I am an anomaly in my own life; how can I possibly expect someone else to know what makes me tick when I’m not certain myself.  A solitary life.  For the most part, it is the perfect solution; except, of course, when I filet the people I care about because I come to a point where control is  nearly impossible.  Yes, for the most part, a solitary life would be the perfect solution.  I rely on music to get me to a point when I can, once again, speak coherent thoughts.  I am grateful for the pianists, who play the notes my mind sings, that keep me, on some level, sane.  May God bless each one of them.

pianist

John 14:27 ~ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid