Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reflections: On Being the Person We Want to Be (Part 1 of 2)

This has been an action-packed few months, with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Which of course makes me recall Brene Brown's fabulous TED talk. But that is a different tangent altogether.

I have been thinking about the moments where we are exactly where we need to be, and thus find ourselves in company with a version of ourself that we really like. In other words, I have been thinking about being the person we want to be.

I've had two rather profound experiences of late where I have experienced the me I most love. While these experiences have come and gone, I felt moved to reflect on them a bit more - see what else I could learn, what more is to be found in these places of self-love.

The more recent experience was an amazing few days spent in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). This was my first trip to this highly-regarded Northern Minnesota treasure, and having never been made me feel like I wasn't really Minnesotan. Sure enough, afterwards I felt like I was finally a part of a sacred club.

that's Rebecca in the corner photographing a log that looks like it's growing out of the sky. trust me, this is true.

The first thing I thought when I entered the area - and the last thing I thought as I paddled out - was: "I get it now."

This beautiful wilderness area is closed to motorized boats. No planes fly overhead, no roadways cut through. Rebecca commented multiple times on how strange it was to not have a freeway with cars zooming by - and in fact one night she insisted she heard it, and I insisted it was some sort of insect (cicadas I think). This sort of silence makes way for the most profound heightening of the senses. Food tastes better off the campfire. The colors appear more vibrant to the naked eye. The sound of loons and wind and water are crisp.

And the feeling of it... it's hard to describe. Truly, the minute we hit the open water, I dropped into a quiet. I felt the stress just melt off me. I felt light. The openness of the landscape - the vast sky & water - they get in you. If you are willing to go there with me, I will tell you that this place, this beautiful, peaceful place, actually made my heart feel more open, appreciative, receptive.

This trip was after a few months of grappling with who I am - at work, at play, in relationship with myself and others. And this trip was the first time I had gone "into the wild" in a very long time. So I had forgotten how leaving your life behind can actually free you. I forgot what "wild time" (aka: not being ruled by the clock) can do to the psyche.

The pure surprise of it all made the impact all the greater. I didn't feel the need to rush. I didn't have to perform. I could observe what was all around me, and feel a great respect for it. I could feel tiny in the scope of things, and happy for it.

So I realized that to be the person I want to be, I must make room for quiet. I need to slow down. I need to look away from the clock, and just listen to the rhythm of something greater. I must allow myself some "do nothing" days. I must additionally allow myself time away - time to appreciate the parts of the world that are not part of my daily world. The urban girl in me recognizes the rural, wild girl in me. Both need room to breath. 

Very important to this trip was the company of Rebecca. I was deeply appreciative of the time I got to spend with my friend. It is a rare and special thing to be able to have an experience that feels so deeply personal and nourishing, and to be able to share it with another. There are very few people who can negotiate sharing an experience while also not disrupting the moments where solitude is needed. Rebecca was truly the most perfect person to have this adventure with, and I think we both found the balance - without even trying. We gave each other space when needed, and had plenty of closeness when that is what was speaking to us. I cherish our late night tent conversations, the day we paddled together in a very strong headwind, the giggles over some of our more special trip companions, and especially the many times we sat quietly on large rocks and looked out at the world together.

Our trip leader told us about two women from a previous trip who were celebrating 40 years of friendship. Rebecca and I realized this trip marked ten years of our friendship, and I hope we were both wondering what adventure we'd be embarking on thirty years from now.

I feel grateful to have had an adventure where I discovered a new place, remembered parts of myself that I cherish, and grew closer to a very dear friend all at the same time.

Part 2 Forthcoming...

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