No Picture Necessary
I was laying in bed last night, and my Facebook feed began to scroll out of control about how beautiful the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis to you non-Alaskans) were dancing. Living in Alaska, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, however experiencing an aurora display always provides breathtaking moments . Many of my friends on Facebook were posting pictures, and some were driving to higher elevations to enjoy even more breathtaking views. Although I’ve enjoyed the beauty of the “lights” in person uncountable times, I’ll admit that I usually take the more passive approach of continual refreshes of my Facebook and Instagram feeds. For some reason last night, my heart felt the ping of the excitement, as I began to see the pictures in my news feed.
I wanted to see and experience the magic of the evening firsthand. I wanted to take pictures and post them to social media. I wanted to be one of the cool people who climbed out of bed in the middle of a cold dark night to drive to the top of a mountain to gaze at something that very few people ever get to experience. I wanted to go to the unofficial party of those who chased moments of magical beauty. And so I did.
Within a few quick minutes, I had crawled into sweatpants and Bailey, my wonder dog and I were outside under the night sky, and walking to the car under an umbrella of bold green streaks. I planned on taking pictures, but since I was dependent on my iPhone camera, I decided to wait until we got to the top of the mountain in order to have a better chance at capturing the true beauty. Driving up the mountain was challenging as I could hardly keep my eyes off the sky and on the road. I began to get more excited – but not only because of the beauty of the night.
I began to realize I was beginning to focus more on the picture I was going to take and post to Facebook, than the miracle that was dancing over my head. My focus was shifting from actual self-fulfillment to the need to prove that I was being self-fulfilled. Instead of allowing myself to experience the magic of the moment, and the overwhelming emotions I was feeling standing under one of God’s great miracles, I was mentally preparing the “post” that would ensue to validate those emotions.
I’m beginning to recognize more and more that I’m spending far too much time attempting to capture the proof of moments, instead living those moments. For some reason I have equated the subsequent validation of moments like last night’s Northern Lights, as some profound acknowledgment that I’m whole, fulfilled and a person who appreciates the little things.
As I stood on top of that mountain last night with my iPhone camera in hand, I looked around at all of the others focused on the night’s dancing lights, and I realized that no picture was capable of capturing the emotions of my middle of the night jaunt and the crayola like sky I was standing under. A picture would not show the beat of my racing heart, or the tears beginning to swell in my eyes as a result of greatness of the night. It wouldn’t capture the excitement I was feeling about my decision to make a midnight run up to the top of the mountain. The moment was one that needed to be lived, not shared.
Looking up at last night’s sky helped me realize that it’s impossible to photograph self-fulfillment, and despite my previous attempts to “prove” myself to others, I was trying to take an impossible picture. I spent almost an hour at the top of that mountain staring up at the sky through my teary eyes, and although I have no picture for Facebook or Instagram, I do have a memory that will be ingrained in my heart forever, and by that I am blessed.
Snow Moon’s Light
The Division of Self
Competitive heart and brain
Conquering past thoughts
A New Sunday
I pulled up the blankets, and tucked in my head
Determined to not have to get out of my bed.
I silenced my phone, and turned of the dings
Doing my best to not think of a thing.
I laid in a sunbeam, all snuggled within
Avoiding all moments of thinking of him.
With each passing moment,
My confidence raged.
I knew I’d survive this day.
I glanced at my phone, and then looked away
Avoiding the moment of contact and pain.
He continued to wait, selfish motives in place
Yet under my covers, I failed to engage.
Hiding from life, is sometimes ok
Sometimes you just need to get through the day.
I’ll grow up tomorrow, and move on my way
But today on this Sunday, I just need to fade.
Stark Blue in the Midst of Fall
While driving out to the Nature Center this morning, I become overwhelmed with emotion. I was completely overtaken by the beauty of the day. The blue bird skies, the crisp fall air and the majestic mountains were breathtaking. As I sipped my Jitters latte with Bailey the wonder dog in my lap, I was overwhelmed with just how blessed I am. It’s easy to overlook the obvious when burdens begin to feel heavy and life is developing in a way we may not have anticipated or desired. I began to reflect on my life….
Work has been especially challenging the past few months and it’s left me both physically and emotionally exhausted. My own classes have been demanding and time consuming, leaving me brain drained on a daily basis. Whereas I love living in Eagle River again, there never seems to be enough time to do the things I believe with help refill my teapot. A complicated relationship has left me fragile and for as much as I’m thrilled to have my four adult children living their lives independently of me, I still struggle with the awareness that each of them took a small piece of my heart when they flew from my nest.
As Bailey shifted his position, I looked in the backseat of my car and had to chuckle as I saw the carseat base on one side and the dog kennel on the other. It was at that moment, I felt an overpowering sense of gratitude for my life as it is today. I’m an unattached 50 year old grandmother, with a medically diagnosed schizophrenic dog. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and yet despite it all…I am blessed!
My life has been complicated in many ways. In many situations, I’ve been a victim of circumstance, however as I’ve fought the fight to continue my journey, I’ve also been a recipient of selfless grace and generosity from others. Despite the fact that I still harbor residual shards of brokenness, those fractured pieces no longer control how I live my life, or the expectations I have for my future.
I’m more physically healthy now than I’ve been since my teenage years. My emotional health is the best it’s ever been, and even though it’s sometimes hard to see the forest through the trees, I feel a sense of confidence in life. In the midst of all of life’s chaos including the worry, the concern, and the fears I have for those I love, along with the periodic anxiety of what my own future holds, I’m content.
As I watched the floating leaves on the fall color palate, my eyes shifted to the distant glacier. In many ways, the stark blue hues seemed misplaced amongst the yellow, orange and red foliage. The glacier provided a reminder of the many changes that occur over time and the unexpected beauty those changes can bring. Like the glacier, my life has been a series of drastic events over time. Some of them of been unexpected and unfortunate, and some have been undeserved blessings. My gratitude today is for all of them, since without both the defeat and the grace, my heart and soul wouldn’t understand the significance of the process leading to the beauty of the unexpected.
I am grateful and I am blessed.