Away and Home

Away and Home

This picture is Hero Market on 247 – Old Woman’s Springs Road in Landers.


I just got home from Lubbock Texas for a SEJ conference (Society of Environmental Journalists). Lubbock, Texas. The people were pleasant, the hotel, the Overton was high class. The beds were heavenly, thickly padded and luxurious. The sheets were the absolute best quality, and there was the Buddy Holly museum. Who could ask for anything more?

I love to travel and have been doing a lot lately. Just this year alone I have been to Utah, New Mexico, Virginia (Washington DC), Atlanta, San Francisco and parts of Northern and Central California and most recently Lubbock, Texas. I love this country and seeing America and experiencing it in a way that I can feel each state personally is something I am always eager to do. Saying all that, the other thing I love is coming home.

There is always an unexpected joy I feel as I drive the last hour home. Once I pass Cabazon and the discount mall I feel a heightened sense of excitement and relief. Years ago, the drive was punctuated by the dinosaurs which are now obstructed by the mall and all the development.

I don’t go anywhere without my Canon camera and lenses, but they are heavy and carrying them around is a psychical challenge. It’s the first thing I take into the house and bring it to my room to be cleaned out, sorted and put away. Sometimes I take the card out of the camera and download the pictures to the computers if I haven’t already done it on the road. I love making prints and laying them out on the kitchen table. There is something about the newly printed, glossy photos that bring the whole experience together. I have noticed I am getting fussier about what I shoot. I don’t take as many photos as I once did.

I love driving through the pass into Morongo Basin. I love the mountains that are sometimes covered in snow, the sleepy, small-towns, and the Joshua Trees. I’m ok with the fast food chains, the gas stations and departments stores, next to mom and pop stores like the Joshua Tree Health Food Store and Grateful Desert, the Herb shoppe and Ecco Market. I appreciate the clerks that know be by name.

I love the house I live in. It’s quiet and inviting. When I get home late, which is often, I will turn on the patio lights and look at the Japanese honeysuckle creeping it’s way up the wall and the roses in the large urns. Inside, everything is exactly as I left it – clean, and comfortable. Now the weather is turning cold; I will light a fire in the wood burning stove, and settle into the overstuffed brown couch. Life is good.

Risk Taking

Risk – the word conjures images of fearless people flying through a spray of white powder while downhill skiing, or Mario Andretti winning NASCAR, George Mallory climbing Mount Everest in 1924, and soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. These are not risks I would take, and yet, even as I say this, I think about all the risks I have taken. I drove to Utah by myself and stayed there for 10 days alone. I spoke to strangers, took a class in cross country skiing, even though my knees are weak. So what is that, stupidity or bravery? I think it can be either. I think it depends on who you talk to or what the outcome is. Bravery is winning. But what is winning? Is it reaching the desired goal or learning everything there is to learn of that particular lesson. I think it is the latter.
I am a risk taker and sometimes I am oblivious to the potential dangers and sometimes, or often, I do it anyway. I walk into strangers houses, I drive alone around America, I run after an earth mover in Mississippi with my camera in my hands. I get on a plane and fly to Europe by myself. Those are risks.
I felt called to go to Rome and did. I stayed in a questionable part of town because I had no idea of the area before I booked my room. I traveled at night from my hotel to the Vatican, I listened to the Pope give the Christmas service, all the while my mind was complaining, wailing and whining. I went anyway. The gift of my stupidity/bravery was opening to a spiritual energy that I will never forget. By the time I left Saint Peters and Rome, my heart felt as if it was exploding. Everyone who walked up to me for the next couple of days started to cry. One woman, Mariana, through the tears, said my heart made her feel sparkly.
Brave or stupid is just a point of view. The one thing I do know is that my heart must decide my actions and if I don’t follow my heart it’s pretty foolish. My heart always knows where I should go and what’s safe for me. The outcome is less important than the experience. When I follow my heart I am living the life I was always meant to live.
For years, I have been protected in obvious ways. When I was a teenager, driving too fast along the Pacific Coast Highway, I spun out, my car making a series of 360s. The congested highway suddenly emptied, there was no one around. I finally came to a stop with my back tires resting on the edge of the cliff.
I was protected during the times I encountered different types of street violence, walking away with little damage or bodily injury and the words, “You are protected”, echoing in my head, I never take it for granted.
Only when I don’t follow my heart, do I find myself in pain or in danger. This life is about learning and evolving. This life, for me, is about healing, experiencing and discovery.
Most of all, I have learned that all my answers are inside me. I have learned there is no real protection, and there is no safety. Protection and security comes from listening and trusting no matter what the outcome is.

Flowery Branch, Georgia

Flowery Branch, Georgia. The Dog was acting up and the authorities were called in.