As I've grown, I've collected so many things - old expectations, old fears, old stories, old wounds. And in that process, it has seemed sometimes like my life has gone from an expansive green meadow of diversity to a deeply rutted dusty path, walled in by high embankments. And I've thought, "if I had made different choices, tried other things, I could be doing something so different now, be so much happier now". Winding up a PhD program four years ago, this is how I felt; stuck on a train track I didn't know how to jump, hemmed in by a heart-crippling fear of both the unknown and the possibility of disappointing others if I didn't meet their expectations. But somehow, through no particularly monumental event that I can recall, I realized that it is never too late to screw up one's courage and make new choices. So I ignored the niggling arthritis in my knees and jumped. Not so far that I completely ditched what drew me to my field to begin with, but far enough that I get plenty of raised eyebrows when I try to explain the unconventional path that I'm choosing.
I haven't completely landed yet. Although I can see the ground below me, not so far away. This blog has been part of learning to touch down, find my own voice and vision. I've loved pulling out my old, battered, craigslist-special camera and learning to get a different perspective on the world. I've struggled with shaking the dust off my gray matter and writing about what I see, wondering whether anyone cares, whether I care. But even this process I've loved too. I'm starting to see a few seedlings pop up around my feet now as I walk.
When I first started this blog, I hinted at a grand scheme for my life, but haven't ever talked about what that was. What I'd really love to do is bring what I love about Ecology and education to kids. To remind them that you don't have to go someplace wonderful to see something wonderful - that even on a microscopic scale, amazing things are happening in the patch of dirt in their own backyard, be it January or July. My process of achieving this goal is almost infinitesimally slow with one lovely, wild child in my life already and one shortly to arrive. But I am getting there. Like Michael Ende's wonderful character, Beppo the old street sweeper, I'm getting to the end of my road one step at a time.
One recent leap was to sign up for a photography class. For 26 years (so crazy to talk about periods of my life in terms of quarter centuries!!) I've talked about wanting to learn manual photography. Since buying my DSLR camera, I've gotten 85% there through playing around on my own, but plateaued on AV mode. I've had so much fun over the past week moving the dial on my camera to fully manual. I've botched more pictures than you can imagine and missed a million moments fumbling over shutter speed and aperature, iso and spot-metering. But in the process I've captured back the feeling that failing isn't really failing at all. Just stumbling forward to the next great thing. And I'll take fumbling any day over standing in the same stagnant mud I've been in for years.
Here are a few of the photos I've had fun capturing this week:
|Heading off to pre-school with K Bear in tow|
|Making new friends at the duck pond|
|Never ending fun with toilet paper and a bathtub|