On Golden Pond

IMG_5704I am wrapping up a month-long sabbatical of self-reflection fitted in with two quick nature-filled trips to Tahoe and Point Reyes. At this point, I must first reference a New York Times article, “The Meaningfulness of Lives,” I alluded to six years ago. I want to do the things I used to love so passionately, like tennis, dancing and even writing (well, maybe not all at the same time) that seemed so superfluous when preoccupied with other stuff. I literally felt I couldn’t afford to invest in them because of self-preservation until I realize I couldn’t justify it anymore. My self-worth and a worthwhile life hang in the balance.

I’ve come to know that it’s not a matter of being morally superior or even over-the-moon happy. Rather, it is whether I am thoroughly engaging in something, and it may not always be so pleasant as I spent some of the month healing the wounds of past unfairness and indiscretions and confronting such basic impulses as the inability to relax and unplug. My sojourns to Tahoe, which I hadn’t visited in 17 years, and Point Reyes, where I had never been, put me in touch with some emotions I had ignored and wasn’t aware of–this was the time to push those to the surface and tackle them for as much as I could tolerate it, fully understanding they may crop up again. I am human after all.

As my friend Angela had eloquently chimed in when rain and later hail descended on the lake, “Sometimes rain is best because people scatter, and you can enjoy a moment of solitude in beautiful nature.” Driving in a canopy of firs, cruising on a riverboat from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay, hiking street level toward the edge of Lake Tahoe, my mind was empty in a Zen-like state I may have never known existed. It was that deep.

On the eve of a new job and chapter and the cusp of Autumn, my favorite season of the year when things come into fine focus, I am of this mindset: There will be parts of my journey that remind me it’s so much bigger than me; but I have an active role to carve out space and bring meaning to bear on my life that I promised will be one well lived.

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If I Could Always Be Here

Island State of Mind: Kohala Coast
    Island State of Mind: Kohala Coast

There are various stories to tell as I peruse my journaling during my vacation in Kona, Hawai’i: parents who cannot unplug from the rest of the world; a playful, incorrigible six-year-old nephew; a second honeymoon for my brother and his wife.  I would be burying the lead if I don’t include the adventures of a single daughter traveling with her retired folks, but that’s for a future book.  For the intents and purposes of this blog, what I’m after in October is how I’ve embraced doing virtually nothing but relaxing and simply being–something a city gal like me has difficulty wrapping her arms, much less her head, around.

In an effort to be more Zen

My effort to be more Zen

The surprise of Hawai’i is how much I love it, much the same way I feel about Paris and Italy.  But my takeaway is tinged with much less sorrow as though I would never see it again.  Only a mindset away, I can be a beach bum anytime I want to get away.  Quite frankly, I could do it for months, years even.  My trip forced me to think how I would want my life to be going forward–no more running on fumes as a result of a protracted daily grind and steady stream of stunning morons and smooth operators that have worn the soul dry.  The outflow, I hope, is the life I am meant to lead–less stress, more serenity, love, humor and fulfillment on every level in the chaos and messiness of reality–the measure of living without regrets.  Then, maybe, just maybe, when retirement eventually arrives, I won’t have to pinch myself as though in a dream to be in this paradise again.