I think it’s important to use one’s gifts and talents to the best of one’s ability in a lifetime. (If you are still not quite sure what they are, go back to what you loved doing when you were five or six years old and go from there.)
I was taking an evening beach walk last week when my two friends, a couple, each pulled out a pair of Zeiss binoculars to look at a bird. “Wow,” I remarked, “Someday I am going to get myself a decent pair of binoculars” as I inspected one of the pairs. Then I stopped and said to myself, “What the hell am I waiting for?”
About 30 years ago on a hike, I had difficulty identifying a bird that my companion easily did. She said “take a look through these” and she handed me an expensive pair of Leica binoculars. There was the bird with its colors and features crisp and crystal clear. I was astounded at the difference between her glasses and my inexpensive pair at the same resolution. “Someday,” I said to myself.
Those excuses…too expensive, too extravagant, too precious, not practical. What bunk. I’m in my mid-sixties. Practicality can only work so long as an excuse. Really, sometimes it’s good to reexamine your longings, take them seriously, then take action.
I got home, did some research and ordered a fabulous pair of high-quality binoculars with all the features I could ever want. They came yesterday. I love them. This morning in bed I watched a Downy Woodpecker at the feeder with my new binoculars. The colors and features of the bird were crisp and crystal clear.
The somedays roll past
Like tumbleweeds on a desert highway
Piling up on fences
The calendar pages turn
“Someday I will…”
I declare longingly to myself
Until I realize there are a limited amount of pages left to turn
On Saturday, June 3, I will board a plane for three weeks in Ireland. I feel both excitement and anxiety about this trip for I am a reluctant traveler. You see I have this cozy little life in living in an old farmhouse in rural Oregon. I don’t always feel that need to get away for I am “away.” Mind you I will always jump at the chance to go camping, hiking or kayaking in the Pacific Northwest but heading across the ocean with a tourist guidebook in hand does not attract me.
Yet every few years I feel that pull to experience the unknown, go to a far off place and savor the sights and culture of someplace foreign. The one caveat is that I need to travel with purpose, rather than being a tourist bouncing from attraction to attraction. I require a mission and an opportunity to learn about a new country from “the inside out” rather than just be a casual observer. When I was in my 20’s, my work in wildlife research & as a river guide required me to travel to the far reaches of bush Alaska. Past adventures have also included numerous solo Spanish language immersions in Central America and Mexico with homestays with local families. Once I traveled to Northern Guatemala alone, arriving Christmas night to a home in an impoverished town to participate in an environmental project there. In 2013 I walked the Camino de Santiago from France through N Spain with a friend to mark my 60th birthday. This type of travel is often uncomfortable but offers such opportunities for perspective & personal growth.
This coming trip will not offer such extreme physical and emotional challenges as my previous journeys. I will make my way from Dublin by bus to the Ballinglen Art Center in the small village of Ballina to take a weeklong mono-printing workshop from artist Ron Prokrasso. Three friends will join me at the workshop’s end. We will spend 2 weeks traveling about NW Ireland in a rental car staying in several cottages we have reserved.
It will be a fabulous trip but I am already missing my “spousal equivalent” of 17 years, my two goofy dogs, the stray cat that comes to the porch every night to be fed, the hummingbirds that frequent the porch feeder, my studio & all the other ingredients that make up the life that I cherish.
But I will allow myself to be uprooted for a time to be pruned and enriched by the wonder & challenge that travel can present. I hope to grow as an artist and bring back a host of fond memories as my souvenirs and a lot of new artwork. Until then, I better get packing!