This week was probably the most “normal” week I’ve had in about 6 months, which made it a very unusual week. It was a week of fairly regular feeling days in the office, with evenings spent at home watching television, chatting with visitors, or farting around on the computer. As boring, mundane, or familiar as that probably sounds to most people, looking back on a week like this during this particular year feels pretty heavenly for now.
The weather on the Oregon Coast has offered up a sampler platter of rain, sun, overcast, puffy clouds, cold, and warm. With the weather in such a state of flux, you frequently see beautiful things happening in the skies surrounding you. Out on the beach where I live, Neahkahnie Mountain is about as north as you can see and Cape Meares is about as far south. There are days when you can watch a storm roll in over these landmarks while still feeling sunshine on your shoulders standing on the beach near Rockaway. Some days, the marine layer is so think, you cannot see them. Some days you may see half of them. Some days it is so clear, you can make out the houses of Manzanita below the mountain. I’ve been treated to all of these incarnations this week.
I’ve been working on being more present, trying to live in the moment and enjoy what is in front of my face. We all say we want this, but then we turn around and spend most of our daily life staring at a screen of some sort. I’ve spent a great deal of office time in these past months planning, responding, prepping, creating frameworks for things that will happen or documenting things that did happen. I haven’t spent nearly enough time just observing what is happening. I find myself out of practice with this enough that it’s tough to do it well. I get out on the beach and look at the beautiful ocean, and I feel the urge to move on, to pull out my phone, to get on to something.
“Yeah, there’s the ocean. We’ve seen it already, can we go now?”
Being a bit out of shape on my evening jogs has helped me to conveniently walk in some of the more scenic spots along the beach. If I need to catch my breath, I may try to time it right in front of Twin Rocks or right next to the stream that runs into the ocean. I’ve had several moments this week where I felt it necessary to turn off my music just to stand still and look. These are steps back to something more balanced. There is something in my consciousness that has fallen asleep, and I am nudging it, hoping it will come out on the porch with me and watch the sun come up.
I was the camp host for two groups this weekend, and on Friday I waited in the Welcome Center for their leaders to arrive, so I could get them their paperwork, walkie-takies, and let them know who happy we were to have them with us. We are approaching the solstice with the shortest days of the year. That is more pronounced farther north, so night begins well before 5pm. There are moments in this time of the year that feel so different from the rest of the year. In a time before I had finished up in the office it felt much later in the evening. Yet, I was a little more awake than usual.
We spend so much of our life recognizing and arranging patterns, getting used to the way something should be or at least telling ourselves it should be this way. Growing is realizing the holes in those patterns and learning how to deal with what is left. We learn how to deal with our mistakes about what the pattern is telling us. It is an important lesson to moving through this life and keeping your sanity. Learning to live in the pattern, even though it isn’t what you told yourself it was.
I saw that the sun was waning, and I wanted to run out to the beach for something I had promised to do. Teela would very soon be moving on to a new adventure in Nashville, a big new life step. I changing of patterns. Friends had been asked to shoot a video wishing her well on her new journey. I knew that if I was going to send Teela a message, it could not be with the wood paneling of my office as a back-drop–it would need to be the ocean. There was enough time before the first groups was scheduled to arrive, so I changed the sign on the door to read, “We stepped out for just a moment,” and I sprinted down the trail among shore pines and cedars, hopping fallen trunks.
There on the beach was just enough daylight for me to capture the ocean, the coastal range, the driftwood washed up by the mighty ocean. I wished Teela good luck from the West Coast, gave the obligatory plug to come out and counsel, and encouraged her to remember whenever it became difficult to remember all the great things she’s done before. I have seen Teela at camp, doing wonderful things. I’ve seen so many of us rise beyond who we thought we were, becoming the best versions of our self. I have no doubt it is in her.
I wanted her to see where I am now, too, because our move to Oregon has certainly been a similar sort of adventure. We left something comfortable, something we had known our whole lives to do something new and exciting, something we had dreamed about for years and years. It had not gone exactly according to plan. It was difficult in the ways we imagined, but then it was difficult in ways we could not anticipate. The patterns changed and shifted, and we’ve had to adjust ourselves and continue growing. But, when you look at the video with that beautiful ocean in the background and remember all the amazing things we’ve seen that have lead to this new amazing opportunity, it makes the scary promise that the patterns are not permanent something we are more willing to take on.
On Sunday, as the retreat groups were cleaning up their cabins, I decided to go for a run. The forecast said it would begin to rain about 11am, so I wanted to take advantage of my window. I got out a little late, but it looked beautiful. The sun was shining, and there were big puffy clouds. I rain the first half with strength and grit, pushing myself. I stopped to look out at the ocean before turning back towards home. I looked south towards Cape Meares and could see blue vertical streaks in the distance where the Cape should be. It was much hazier than when I left, and I knew what that meant. Rain was on it’s way, probably faster than I could run.
The forecast was right. This pattern had held. I was the one who threw it off. I left late, stopped several times on the way back. When I got to Twin Rocks, I slowed down to a walk. I had worn myself out, and I wanted to look at the rocks. I turned off my ipod, so I could hear my surroundings. My shirt and shorts were already beginning to get wet, and I wasn’t even halfway back home. I had to accept that I was going to get pretty soaked. I could run faster and limit the damage, but it was going to happen. I ran hard in stretches, pushing against the rain reaching down for the strength within me. Then, in other stretches, I walked accepting and fully taking in what was falling all over me, soaking my clothes, my hair, my skin.
There is a balance to strike up in times like these. The patterns are shifting and changing, and that will never cease while we’re living in it. I am looking to spend more time with it. Get to know it better. Spend time stopping to examine it and take it in. But, also standing up and running with speed and power, exerting my influence on the patterns as they change. Building up something within me and outside of me that I believe in, something that will help us all step out in our worlds feeling brave and free.