Around this time last year I was moving in to a new home with new friends, new beginnings and of course, new aspirations. And around this time two years ago I was preparing for another move, the biggest one of my life -- Sam's new start in a new state.
When I look back on life, I converge all the moments that made up the first 23 years of my existence and I let out a long, happy sigh - my long series of "firsts", the core group of friends & family who always stood by me, college and all my awkward, albeit identity forming obsessions. (Kurt Cobain for life!)
And then there is life now, in a distant mossy wonderland. Initially I felt liberated, free, audacious and still, so very lonely. But you all probably expected that, didn't you? 2,300 miles away from home and less friends than I could count with one hand; Inevitably, I found myself feeling lost and so out of my league.
Here's the thing: I made a bold move, but was missing some of the necessary winning plays (i.e. a legit job, stable home, connections in the community, etc.) Soo....needless to say, for all the wanderlust I initially experienced, there was enough backlash from the universe that I truly started to wonder if I had made the right decision.
(Surely, any decision is the right decision given the appropriate perspective.)
For all the obstacles the Pacific Northwest rained on me, the biggest and most incredible gift was actually nature and the sheer luck I possessed in living here, among gorgeous trees and magnificent waterfalls. What more could a gal ask for?
So this is where I want to start. With the trees.
For hours I can sit there, just watching - patiently observing the movements and sounds of the trees. I admire the way the light plays on the branches, illuminating the intricate patterns and textures of the leaves and the way the tree trunks stand so valiantly tall, etched in coarse wrinkles from their long decades of perpetuity.
The PNW was a complete, fresh start for me. I got what I asked for.... change. And so much of it; In the forms of friends, surroundings, and even in the way I pump my gas! ( or don't) It seemed I could truly start over and be anyone I wanted to be. That is, until someone from my previous life crossed into the Now.
And inevitably, those moments would occur. At first I tried to avoid them. I didn't want my friends to see what I was up to. I did not think they would understand. That's because I did not understand. Eventually several old friends would visit and in the most unexpectedly expected way, nothing, not even location or time, could change our relationship! It didn't really matter what story our past held because we each were living in this same stage, if only by contrasting geography. My friends were feeling the exact emotions I was: buzzing from excitement of the future, inspired by the fresh surroundings and, what would any 20-somethings story be without a quest for new love.
So I stopped living with this traumatizing, self-imposed fear of being judged by others and I opened my arms to the future. I was happy to see everyone following their paths, starting to form beautiful families and become responsible adults. I wanted to feel that way too, but my spirit wasn't quite ready. It was time for me to finally enjoy just being Sam.
So I hiked. and I hiked. and I took photos. and I relished in nature.
I decided to do everything I could to get out of my comfort zone and challenge the life I had known. As I reached new levels of physical heights, I simultaneously pushed my spirit to new limits. And to all those who told me I couldn't be something (anything) - YOU were in my mind. Like any climb, I experienced a few setbacks. Two steps forward, one steps back.
And many times I found myself beyond tired and clinging on for dear life to the only stability I could find in such exposed faces. But I did fail. Of course I had to. I did not see this at first, and even now it is not an easy task to understand, but failure was the secret component to success. You cannot truly know what triumph feels like until you've been on the far end of that. Even the lowest of vantage points can bring light to a novel plan of attack.
But I did make new friends, people I could trust. As it turns out not everyone is out to screw you over. What a refreshing thought that was! With them, I felt accepted and found the desire to explore again!
I moved to the PNW to experience a multi-dimensional change - one I would appreciate more as I explored my physical surroundings. As the group took me in, we made questionable judgment calls that took us to incredible places (like dipping my toes in the Columbia River). I was the newest addition to the gang, eager to learn and break a few rules in the process.
We are the bold, audacious forerunners of our generation - young adults pushing personal boundaries as we seek our slice of the pie.
But before the triumphs, genuine friendships and really, any of the pivotal experiences I've shared, I met Richard - MY crown jewel of the Northwest. It was actually him that introduced me to most of my new allies. He is the one that would change everything.
Rich showed me a new type of love - the kind that is not selfish. It was during a time of confusion and mistrust. Most days I felt frustrated and not myself, but Rich was there to listen. He taught me the value of patience and pure, selfless affection. When I was with Richard, time was suspended as all things negative fell to the wayside.
In today's world, I see plenty of sad things. I see ignorance, I see greed and I see hatred. Many times I choose to disconnect from my devices and turn a blind eye to the news around me for fear of being poisoned. So instead, I choose to focus on the beauty around me. And I hope that my writings and images can allow you, my loyal readers, to do the same. A safe place to reflect and escape. Before I moved up North, I rarely made a conscious effort to experience a sunset. Of course I had seen them, I mean who hasn't. But most of the time, we stumble upon a sunset. I'm driving home from work. Time to take out the trash. Let's go for a walk. But to actually plan to watch a sunset is something else. They are free, easy to find and best of all: they happen every single day. Yet many of us overlook them due to our busy, busy lives. As I reflect on the past two years of my life, I realize that for all the struggles I've overcome and the challenges I've faced, I always gave myself the time to set aside my daily worries (if just for a couple of minutes) and just relish in the simple, priceless moments - you know, the little things. So let yourself have that time and while you are planning for the future, take a second to appreciate what's happening right in front of you. Today.