The Circle of Life


Antsirabe, Madagascar. August 2014. 
"Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don't even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed."
Alice Walker

     I sit in the purple dusk and wish I could see the sunset. The trees are too full for that now, and I wish not for the first time that I lived somewhere in the country, with a sky unobstructed by brick and mortar. I like to imagine that I would sit outside every evening and watch the sun sink, watch Sirius twinkle slowly overhead, think about how vast the galaxy and the universe surrounding it is, think about how small I am in comparison. And still, despite my lofty dreams, the sun would probably slip past me in the country just as it does now in the city. It's funny how we envision life to be a certain way, and how that vision can be fulfilled, yes, but in different ways than you first imagined. The night tonight feels like that night a year ago, when I sat on the front step as the world melted into shadows, when all I could think about was how good the evening air felt, and how much I suddenly didn't want to leave. That was the night before I left the country, struck out on my own, for six-and-a-half months. A mystery, how six months looming before you seem an impossible amount of time, but six months behind you seem a blink of an eye. If there's one thing I know, it's that time is the best magician.

     It's been a year now, and while it is the past that shaped me, it is the future I am focusing on. Life is still thick with hope, but hope of a different kind. Last year's hope was restless, but this year's is calm, steady, and seemingly infinite as I navigate the in-betweens. In a year's time I will know more, will have more experiences that will have defined me, will think on the naivety of myself at eighteen. This circle of life could scare me--has scared me--but learning is a process I never want to stop and so I will let it thrill me instead.

     And as life progresses, I think, not for the first time, of the oft-frivolous nature of the things we get caught up in, the things that consume us until we take a step back and realize how trivial it all is. The worries and the insecurities ebb and flow until things like a devastating earthquake in Nepal interrupt the cycle and I think, my goodness, when did I become so selfish. Like I said, the circle of life. The next logical step, then, is to step out of yourself for awhile, take a good deep long look into your soul, realize you worry too much over trivial things (or are caught in the past, or speak before thinking, or are just generally selfish, et cetera), repent for said vice, resolve to do better. And then you step back into yourself, the very best of intentions in mind, and it starts all over. The circle of sinful life we are trapped in.

     I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I'm moving forward. So far it's involved planning trips with my boyfriend--just last night I booked a yurt on the Oregon coast!--and transferring to a university in the fall and mustering up all the adult I can while trying to preserve some of the carefree. (Okay, all of the carefree--let's not get ahead of ourselves here.) Jesus has been with me then, and he will be with me now. The circle of life, and I'm here somewhere in the middle, figuring out things one step at a time.

Babe in the bush


The conscious effort of taking proper photographs seems to have been buried under assignments and laziness. A shame, really--but that does not detract from my never-ending admiration of the dance between light and shadow. M is my ever patient model when the afternoon sun catches my eye. It's hard to believe more than a year as passed since we took a similar set of photos. Time marches ever on, I suppose. I am glad to have these snippets of time frozen.

For safekeeping


I haven't been much good at blogging the past few months. I suspect it's because I don't trust myself to accurately translate these moments into words. But it is good and grounding for me to return here and write, if only for myself, if only so I can remember this time.

This past week I flew up to Calgary to visit my boyfriend, Jacob. It was only my second time in Canada and I was as fascinated as last time. Mostly, though, I was just happy to be with him. Being in a relationship long distance can be brutal, but somehow it's all worth it when you're together again. On a misty Saturday we took a day trip to Banff and I was overwhelmed with beauty. Come summer, Jacob told me, it'd be even more majestic and I could hardly believe him. On the way back to Calgary that night, I fell asleep in the passenger seat to Neil Young and the shadowy mountains looming above the highway. It was such a simple moment, but I cannot get it out of my mind. I am reminded of a poem by Wendell Berry:
"Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest."
There is much more I could write, but most of it has been tucked into my heart for safekeeping. I think often about striking that balance between tasteful sharing and keeping things sacred. I wonder, what will life be like six months, a year, five years from now? We all know that it was curiosity that killed the cat, so I will be content to wait and see.

The most normal picture we were able to get together, ha!

Jacob so patiently explaining our route

Jacob's Jeep is lifted approximately as high as my waist; it took some practicing to be able to get in the darn thing halfway gracefully, but I prevailed!

Two Jack Lake

Approaching Lake Minnewanka



just a note