I stopped to rest my heavy backpack on a rock as I looked out at the stunning scenery around me. The cliffs etched the sky with a purpose as it decorated itself in patches of snow and a hint of wildflowers that scattered near the tree line. With a mix of laughter and conversation, we continued to trek along the Goat Rocks Wilderness in the great state of Washington. Each movement felt like a hello and a goodbye all at once. Looking out at mountains that I’ve had the honor to observe my entire lifetime, and recognizing that there are many more mountains to see, to conquer, to be amongst.
Trekking amongst the wilderness, away from the throws of a daily life, I could breathe. I felt happier, much happier than I had been for some time. The worries and weights on my heart did not seem to cascade in waterfalls down my cheeks. In the hills, amongst the grass and diving cliffs, there was beauty to be found. I mixed my thoughts away from reality, and pushed my mind to dream once more.
To believe once more that this life is hard, it takes hard work and sometimes causes unbearable circumstances, but there is beauty to behold. There are mountains that dance before our eyes in their stunning beauty and call us to be something more than we ever thought we could be. Yet, I am nothing without the people who have made my life the beautiful journey that it is. The laughter and weightlessness in my heart was matched by the love and relentless support of my friends, my family.
Two years ago I was told I could never backpack, I could not rock climb, I could not adventure past the safety gates of what was perceived as a comfort zone I should reside in. I faced people who told me I could never be anything more than what I was. What my body was.
Flash forward to two days before we are meant to head for the wilderness, the pain increased in my left eye. I lost part of my vision in a daze of confusion as the frustration filled my heart. It felt like I had been given the gift of sight, but then it was snatched from my grasp. I called the specialist just as we were loading the car to go, and they proceed to tell me to come in. Immediately. So the whole adventure crew waited as my eye gets poked and prodded, before we finally were sent on our way.
Turns out, the lens they sutured in almost exactly a year ago was rubbing against my iris, causing pigment to release into the fluid of my eye. Thus, clouding my vision and disorienting my spatial awareness once more. Stubbornness took a hold on my decisions, because I refuse to let the ailments and the unexpected appointments to impede on this transition. This right of passage into my next season. With the help of my adventure crew, we still made it on our journey to the wilderness, just with a few extra medications this time.
The wilderness has a lot to teach us, and it also warns us when we do not treat it right. As we returned from our trip, we learned news of why the air felt so heavy. The beautiful Columbia River Gorge was set fire in a reckless act. A beloved treasure and refuge of visitors and locals alike. It is not this area’s first fire, nor will it be the last, but it breaks the hearts of all of us who found ourselves continually in the safety of the trees and stunning glory of the river.
The natural disasters in the states are overwhelming and devastating. It feels awfully close to home this time, as ash covers the streets and makes the air hard to breathe. Reminding me of the stories I grew up hearing, when nature raged against itself, inflicting on our temporary structures of life. It nestles an understanding though, close to my perspective on life. How nothing is certain, nothing is guaranteed, and nothing perhaps lasts as we think it should.
Families are losing homes, cherished belongings, livelihoods, loved ones, as nature rages and wars continue. Humans have the capacity to endure, but to endure we must have hope. Hope is what drives nations to stand back up, and communities to rebuild once more.
As I pack up my earthly belongings to transition back to New Zealand, I feel the spirit of anticipation, uncertainty, and wonderment. I know this time will be different, and perhaps in some ways more challenging. With loans to pay, medical bills to settle, and visa details to finish, it feels overwhelming to handle. Yet, it is time for me to head back to my other home. Back to my partner who has been patiently waiting for my return.
I enter a new season in less than a week. With a whirlwind of a weekend ahead in sending my friends off into their new chapter as husband and wife, I’ll soon be on a jet plane, transported into a completely different life. A life that’s been whispering my name in the night, beckoning me to step outside of what I know to experience life in such a richer way.
Being home has been a wonderful mix of seeing friends, family, and preparing for life ahead. No transition is easy, because now, either way I will be away from a different home. I will forever be split between two worlds and feeling each pull simultaneously on my heart. Leaving my roots this time is challenging, but staying here would be too easy.
For now, it’s time to fly. To fly to my life across the sea. To a new season. A new chapter in the book. To build a life I’ve yet to know.
It’s been fun Oregon, and I’ll see you in the etches of my heart until the next time we meet.
Love and Light,