I realize that I often unload a lot of my deep, and heavier thoughts. I make mention of the joys in my life, but it's usually as evidence for a dogmatic shift I'm hoping to influence you into. Today however, I wanted to share something light, maybe inspiring, but very beautiful.
Today was a big day. I cried great tears of joy today, and all for something relatively simple.
Ever since finding the quote by Albert Camus:
vivre et de créer au point de larmes
Which translates to "Live and Create to the point of tears" I have tried to embody that sentence. Whether I'm taking a walk, having a conversation, or eating a sandwich, if I live to the point of tears, I am fully aware of the incredible energy around me. And many times, by living on the verge of tears, your levvy fills up, and a sweet warm drop of internal emotion spills down your cheek. And you feel totally human...and beautiful.
Today was one of those days.
I woke up at 4:45 to get some things in order before I had to commute out of town for a gig. I even got a quick workout in and made a delicious carob/banana/strawberry/cherry/oat smoothie. When I arrived at our base camp 100+ miles later, the first thing I noticed was the sweet, damp smell of the pines. To me that smell is congruous to the smell of walking into your house on thanksgiving smelling mom's mashed potatoes in the oven. She doesn't always make that treat, but when she does you know
Soon after the smell got familiar to my nose, we began our activity leading a group of teachers through some culminating processing of their two years in Teach for America. While walking down the trail from that activity to our next, a reading that my co-worker had picked out called The Other Way to Listen,
I saw a little bug crawling up the grass. I stopped in my tracks. It looked like a cicada. I had only ever heard them, or found them dead at the end of the summer, but this one was low to the ground and must have recently emerged. I stooped and picked it up, feeling it's little climbing claws hold onto my finger. I carried it down the trail a little ways, then stopped in awe, noting that one of it's wings hadn't quite finished developing since it emerged from it's molt, and wondering if it could fly, much less make that infamous clicking sound with its wings.
One of the things that has amused me so much about these desert cicadas is their small size, and the considerable difference in sound they make compared to the Cicadas of central America, and especially the 13 and 17 year cicadas of the East.
After admiring him for a bit, he flew off, much to my amazement, about 15 feet above my head. I signed, expressing to my coworker how I had always wanted to see a live one, and we settled in for our reading...but the true sounds of nature had yet to be revealed.
Less than an hour later, feeling the sweat build in the places that sweat does, I found myself walking back through the trails to grab something. I noted the warmth of the day- reflecting that even 5 days ago when I was out here, there was still a sort of crispness of winter. Spring had finally emerged. I saw an Indian Paintbrush blooming, and heard crickets. Lizards were growing in abundance from my last visit, as were the hummingbirds. I have worked at this base camp for 3 years, but I always come into the lush life that is the warm season, I never to get to see the change as starkly as I did today.
On my way back from the mess hall, I noticed another little creature climbing up a blade of grass. This one, however, was bright orange. As I let him crawl onto my finger I discovered that his exoskeleton was soft, almost fuzzy. He must have emerged within the hour (I assume) from his subterranean home, and begun his journey up. Despite his age, he definitely had a strong instinct to climb. I moved him to a nearby tree and I saw another one. Throughout this moment it really hit me-- not only was I to see and touch a cicada today, but I was seeing them emerge from their molt, a true symbol of metamorphosis. I snapped some shots- of the insects, and of me crying about it..and carried on.
|Bright orange cicada?|
|Bright green cicada?!|
The greatness of the day wasn't over, however. Later I got to return a soggy baby rabbit to its hole after it had been chewed on by a friendly dog. I'm not sure if the rabbit will survive, which is unfortunate...but there isn't a shortage of them around. I have been hoping to catch a rabbit around here for years as well, and I got to feel the soft (wet)ness of its fur, and the way it trembled with newness.
And yet, still...my day of curiosity and crossing things off my Base Camp bucketlist wasn't complete.
Our final activity took place under some towering Ponderosa pines. These are the same pines from which we've heard a friendly owl for the last few weeks. On Tuesday I tried to find his/her nest, but only found the owl, and it flew away as I got near. Today, however, while inspecting the tree more thoroughly from different angles, I was able to make out very clearly its nest, and then I set out to achieve another goal- to find an owl pellet to dissect. I walked around the base of the tree that I had checked just days before, and there among the pine needles was a little round gray ball of lint, with a tiny bone sticking out. Success.
These may seem like pretty petty experiences...especially to evoke such strong emotions. But it goes back to Camus. I live each day looking for beauty, and therefore I find it. Sometimes it's in the faces of the men standing with signs on the side of the road. Sometimes it's in the shape of a cloud, or a gesture of another human. But increasingly often, it's the sights and sounds of the world around us. The world we don't often get to hear.
If you haven't read The Other Way to Listen
, click the link- the full PDF is there. We can all listen. The first step is wanting to. The next step is working toward it. But I promise the rewards are astounding.