Home two and a half days now, and still realigning. The laundry is done. The fridge is restocked. But I’m still getting my head refocused.
For two weeks, during an RV trip through several US national parks with my husband and two teenaged sons, I went BIG. Step one of BIG was getting behind the wheel of the 30-foot Cruise America rig that would be our home on wheels for this vacation. Minivan driving must have prepared me, since it wasn’t nearly has hard as I had expected it to be. Maybe I was a truck driver in a previous life.
Prior to our departure, I rented a wide-angle camera lens, the absolute opposite perspective from the macro photography I’ve been practicing this year. My 365 Project photo of the day shifted from ants on flower buds to the Grand Canyon at sunset, the Grand Canyon at sunrise, the Grand Tetons mountain range, not to mention bison and bears and moose.
My daily routine fell by the wayside, but I didn’t beat myself up about it. I managed to meditate about half of the time, twice next to flowing streams when we had particularly nice RV spots — my brain felt thoroughly cleansed those days, as my crazy-making thoughts floated away with the rushing water. The rest of the time I meditated in the front seat of the RV.
Tip for car meditating — bucket seats are not ideal. My first try was in the driver’s seat (the guys were still asleep elsewhere in the vehicle). Bucket seats encourage you to sit back and relax, which wrecks your posture for meditation and makes it really hard to stay awake. I modified by sitting on top of a rolled up yoga mat spanning the front passenger seat, which improved my circulation flow and helped keep my spine straight. The steering wheel would have gotten in the way if I had tried this in the drivers seat. Though an adequate set-up, I missed my meditation bench.
Why didn’t I meditate outside in the midst of nature every day? Three reasons: 1) mornings are cold in the mountains; 2) animals — sometimes big ones — wander through campgrounds and I didn’t want to open my eyes after meditating to discover a moose muzzle in my face; 3) RV parks don’t have much in common with zen sanctuaries.
I felt warm and protected in the cab of the RV on those days that I was able to meditate. If we had particularly early starts, either for driving (we covered close to 2800 miles on our journey), early hikes, or guided activities, I chose not to risk waking the rest of the crew by climbing into my meditation seat before the sun was up.
Rather than berate myself on the days I didn’t meditate, I told myself that photographing the first rays of sunlight spilling into the Grand Canyon was its own form of meditation. The same goes for watching the sun emerge from behind the mountains in Utah, Wyoming, or Colorado. Pure presence is needed to appreciate those early and oh-so-fleeting pink and purple brush strokes across the sky. Mindfulness practice comes in many packages.
My fitness regime fell by the wayside as well. Sure, we were active — hiking (at altitude, which gives you extra brownie points), rafting, kayaking, and horseback riding — but the running clothes I brought along came home untouched. Two weeks with no running and no bootcamp translated into a puffy muffin top above the waistband of my hiking pants by the end of the trip. But that’s OK too. I can take care of that with a few weeks of regular exercise and eating more carefully now that I’m home again.
I did, however, manage to keep up with my 365project.org photo a day commitment. (Haven’t missed a posting since January 1st!) Potential subjects were in abundant supply. The challenge was finding WiFi inside national parks to upload the photograph. We had bought a hot spot device for the trip, but when no cell service exists, the hotspot won’t work either. With all of my nagging of my kids to reduce their dependency on cell phones and the internet, I was the one who asked about WiFi at each new campsite. Sometimes posting the photo required driving to a park lodge or general store. It was the universe’s way of laughing at my former negative, dogmatic views of internet connectivity.
Progress on my book took a two-week hiatus. Writing happened each day, but mainly to record our comings and goings, high points and low points. I had planned for that beforehand, realizing that I wouldn’t be able to be fully present with the trip if I was preoccupied with book writing. But I had met my goal of completing the first two-thirds of the manuscript shortly before our departure, and am still on schedule to finish by the end of the year. Announcing that publicly once again keeps my feet to the fire, and this blog post is the spark that I hope will reignite the meaningful writing part of my brain.
Just as this blog post brings my writing back from the big wide world to a more considered slice of life, my garden is gently pulling me back to a more focused, grounded perspective.
My first day back, I thought, “What could I possibly photograph that will be as impressive as a mountain or a moose?” I settled on the mess left by my crape myrtle tree bursting out of its skin. My second day back (yesterday) a hummingbird at the kitchen window feeder took my breath away. And after catching up last night on the work of my 365project.org photographer friends, I was reminded of the utter excitement that comes along with capturing the image of a crazy insect with a macro lens.
Even as I write this, my garden is calling through the window, “Come on out and see the magic right in your own back yard!” Gotta go.