Last Friday night, I diverged from my typical routine of quarantining myself after a long, draining week in favor of attending a class that would ask of me to sit around a table with a bunch of strangers and do God knows what—an introvert’s nightmare… but I didn’t care. Well, I had some idea of what we’d be doing as it was an “Adventure Writing Workshop.” I live for adventure—or let’s just say I would like to—and, writing has been a joy for years, but especially as of late, so it seemed like a no brainer to ditch my normal Friday night routine.
The workshop facilitator, Charlotte Austin, a mountain guide and adventure writer, welcomed us to this “sexy” (her word, not mine) choice for a Friday night. While I fought to keep my eyes open on account of my wretched ability to sleep these days, and, the couple of writing exercises we did produced nothing but pure shit, still, I sat in awe. I took copious notes, and article after article shared rendered my heart raw. I was like a kid on Christmas morning.
When we took a break halfway through the event, I wandered over to a table where the facilitator’s friend stood with a collection of her artwork for sale. The poor woman patiently waited for the 10 minutes I stood there in my usual indecisive fashion, mesmerized by her watercolor depictions of the mountains that surround us here in the Pacific Northwest. These mountains and landscapes have become my home; they’re one of the subjects that have ushered me into the woman I’ve always wanted to become: the courageous and unashamed lover of the gift of life and place.
How does one choose pieces of artwork when on one page so much of what your body and heart love is staring you in the face? I want them all, I told her… If only I had more disposable income. Eventually, I made a choice and bought three. Two are collaborative pieces including watercolor prints of the facilitator’s artist-friend, Claire Giordano, along with Charlotte’s words. I’ve already given one of them away, but I will be holding onto the other two. They are within view of my desk where I am writing now, and here they will stay. For, they’re visible evidence of the risks I am taking as well as the risks’ immeasurable rewards: a growing love for and acceptance of my own gifts and desires.
Below the beautiful watercolor print of Mt. Baker are these words:
When I’ve climbed high enough, I’ll pause to get my bearings and look back at where I’ve come—and how far I still have to go. – Charlotte Austin
Truly. These days, looking back and looking ahead is filled with so much more hope, desire, beauty and love. Sure, some days, weeks, months are a slog; some are plain awful. But, after I’ve paused and regained my bearings, you better believe I am going to keep on climbing, writing, longing, and loving.