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Spring #5: A rest in the wildflowers
A short backpacking travel diary, and a few thoughts on doing hard things.
It’s early morning now, and my body is aching, but my head is clear. I’ve just returned from a few days of backpacking in northern California.
All the rain in California this year has resulted in carpets of wildflowers. It’s hard to capture in photos, but the hills were covered in lupine, wild sweet peas, hyacinth, baby blue-eyes, buttercups, poppies, and what seemed like a thousand others I can’t identify.
This trek was not long in mileage, but was one of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done, particularly the first day. It was non-stop climbing, and with close to 30 pounds on my back, I definitely struggled. Here are two things I took away from that struggle:
I’d like to get in better cardiovascular shape. I trained for this a bit, but I was quite winded. I work out a lot and my legs are strong, but my lungs couldn’t keep up.
The physical pain of intense exertion is one of the best mood-lifters and head-clearers that I know. It’s why I love lifting heavy weights at the end of a long day. It completely wipes the slate clean. Your body is so focused on dealing with the real, present, physical stress (am I about to drop dead?) that it lets go of the made-up stresses of day to day life (did I remember to send that email?). You remember - ah, yes. This body. Life.
Up, up, up we climbed.
We camped at this lake, where there were these adorable red-winged black birds. They were having lots of fun calling to each other, courting females, and sliding down reeds. It was great evening entertainment.
I feel like a new person after a few days of bathing in wildflowers and sunshine. Everything is so simple on the trail. You feel like a puzzle piece that’s found a home, just doing what humans are meant to do: go outside, use your body, observe your surroundings, make use of what you can, cooperate with the other humans around you, tell stories.
We pile so much on top of that.
A lot of it makes our lives easier, more convenient, more survivable. I know I certainly welcomed a hot shower after all this. But too much ease seems to destroy something vital and necessary. I think we need the struggle.
Head, Heart, Hands
Things to make us think, feel, and do.
I only have a handful of links today, but I’ll return with more next week.
Small acts of kindness matter more than you think. This was an interesting little exploration of why we don’t do these small gestures of kindness more often, assuming they’re unappreciated.
Bees are sentient: inside the stunning brains of nature’s hardest workers. Bees are one of the most fascinating creatures on earth, in my book.
Alicia’s new cross stitch and embroidery designs are just so sweet.
I just picked up a copy of Embroidered Botanicals by Yumiko Higuchi and can’t recommend it enough! I’m playing around with embroidery lately (more on that later).
Have a beautiful, fun, restful, challenging week, my friends. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the role challenge and sturuggle play in your life (especially your creative life).