Life has been a whirlwind these past few weeks. Adam and I moved from Seattle to Oregon on a sudden-yet long thought of decision and our lives have changed quite a bit. Our schedule will now revolve less around routine and more around travel, which has its benefits. The more that I see of the PNW, the more I want to see. I want to be able to visit every gorgeous waterfall, river, lake, and mountain that this area has to offer.
Adam and I spent our first long weekend camping this past weekend. It did not go as planned at all. We drove from Bend, Oregon to Hood River on Friday with the intention of hiking Dog Mountain with the Choose Mountains tribe on Saturday. We camped in the forest Friday night and packed up early Saturday and headed to the trailhead. I was so excited to see all the wildflowers at the top of the hike that I had seen in photos. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with this particular spot, but the parking is super limited due to the fact that there is only a small wedge of road between the Columbia River and the side of the actual gorge. I shit you not there had to be hundreds of people parked up and down the highway leading up to the trailhead and past it. Between my weirdness with crowds and a lack of desire to walk a mile on the shoulder-less road, we decided against it.
I felt like all I wanted to do was get to the wilderness, or something that felt like it anyway. We drove all the way back to central Oregon and set up camp next to a stream on a back road somewhere. It was beautiful and peaceful to the extent that I don’t think I truly appreciated until we returned home and looked at the photos that we shot. As much as being outdoors soothes my soul, I still struggle to stay present even in this most ideal environment. My mind wanders to the chatter in the back of my head. The concerned voice that says, “But what about this problem and this problem and this one? You have to think about it and fix it before you can enjoy this!”
What predominantly weighs on my mind is when I think of the people in my life that struggle just to get out of bed in the morning, wishing they had enough motivation to want to explore and feed their childlike curiosity. I think about them because I have been them. It wasn’t long ago that my days were consisting of eating sushi and Thai food and marathon watching Netflix. I want to help more people to see how much taking care of themselves, mind body and spirit, matters. We have literally one life to live. I know how it feels to be so depressed that the thought of doing anything to change it sounds impossible. But I am here to tell you that it is not impossible.
Life is an ocean of sadness and happiness. Waves hit us that are so big and powerful that we think we will surely drown. That there is no way a person could hold their breath long enough to come out on the other side alive. But you can.
Outside of your world of manmade chaos there is an incredibly beautiful universe of people, animals, and places that you have yet to meet or explore. Places where no one knows your story or your mistakes…who your parents are or what trouble you’ve gotten yourself into. There are limitless opportunities to start again. To take the infinite power of the universe that you have stored inside yourself and create a life that you love and not one that you want to escape from: be it with food, drugs, alcohol, self-harm, or whatever.
I definitely do not have life figured out. But I have seen some of the lowest of lows in the past few years of my life, as well as the highest of highs. I get the distinct impression that one can’t exist without the other, and because of that I am grateful for what all of the experiences in my life have taught me.
Whether it is in your backyard, on a hiking trail, or picking up and moving to a new place, do what you have to do to gain perspective. Leave situations that make you miserable. Stop harming yourself to avoid the pain that demands to be felt. Attack this life with all you have and know that the happiness that lies on the other side of depression is worth the fight. You are worth the fight.
I sit here preparing to leave for Hawaii in a few days, with the hopes of getting the magical shots of Kauai and Big Island that I have been dreaming about since we left nearly a year ago. We don’t have a ton of money or time. We don’t know exactly what avenue our career will take once we return from this trip, or what our life will look like. But what I do know is that all we have for certain is the present moment, and that is where I must choose to live.