09 February 2013

Time Passing

For my 50th birthday back in August, Bear and I took a road trip down to Durango, Colorado, with stops in Salida, Colorado, and Farmington, New Mexico. It was supposed to be a celebration, but for various reasons, it turned out to be a difficult trip for the both of us. I think when I try to force something to be very, very good, I usually get too uptight to let it be what it is.

We did have some beautiful vistas on our trip, especially when we decided to drive the "Million Dollar Highway" (U.S. Route 550). The picture at left shows one of our favorite stops (we went there twice that week): Andrews Lake (with Snowdon Peak in the background). We plan to go back there this coming summer to hike from Andrews Lake to Crater Lake and take another drive along the highway to really enjoy it without pressure to make it "the best birthday trip ever."

But this post isn't about my birthday or about the drive. It's a consideration of how I think sometimes: That the hotel room, the incidentals, the ability to take perfect photographs, how I look, really matters more than enjoying time with my husband and with myself for that matter, at peace in my own body. For instance, we were to meet a friend of Bear's and some of his family for drinks and nachos... I panicked. I didn't have anything to wear, I didn't look right, I couldn't do it, I just couldn't do it. I forced Bear to go shopping with me for new clothes and a new camera (because everything had to be perfect and my Canon G11 had a scratch on the lens...). When we got to the restaurant and met Bear's friend, I immediately relaxed. These people were really nice. They weren't there to judge what I was wearing or how much I weighed or anything else for that matter. It was a happy, congenial setting. Bear had someone to talk to about computer stuff and work, and one of the women wanted to talk to me about my recent back surgery, because she was considering back surgery too. They were accepting and interested. It was a great time, cut too short because they had other commitments.  They had taken time out of their day to get together with us, and I had made way too big a deal out of it. Later that evening, Bear was really sick. We chalked it up to the food, but now I know it was all the stress I was venting.

Why am I confessing all this in a public blog? Because I developed this blog just for this purpose — for examining the conflict that we have within ourselves — using the metaphor of "Dragonfly Wars."

The second best part of the trip was visiting with my dad (Ernie) and his wife (Betty). Driving down to their place, enjoying their garden and the many hummingbirds buzzing about, getting to eat great barbecued chicken courtesy my dad and tender corn on the cob courtesy Betty — this is the good life. One of the reasons I wanted to head south from our place was to spend some time with Dad and Betty. When things went wrong with our hotel room, instead of trying to make it perfect again, we should have taken my dad up on his offer to stay in Farmington. Another error.

What I want this coming summer is a chance to recreate the good parts of that trip, without trying to force it to be GOOD, and FUN, and full of opportunities to take "PERFECT pictures." I want to enjoy the motion of the car as we drive, the book that we choose to listen to along the way, and the company of my husband, friends, and relatives. I want to take care of myself by eating right (no sugar, little alcohol) and taking time to calm down. I want to see my husband happy.

That's a lot of wants. How can I erase all the wants and still make it a good trip? Remember the dragonfly. The adult dragonfly has a lifespan of only five to six months. During that time, its fragile beauty, the glint of sunlight on its wings, its flight as it catches insects and alights on prairie grasses — it is what it is, and that is all.

Even as I write this I'm aware that I'm trying too hard. I want to go back over the paragraphs to perfect my writing. The paragraph above has too many "its" in it. Take a deep breath, Kea. Let it be. Publish the post as an exercise in imperfection.