The Unexpected

Friends, I hope your week has been pleasant so far. I looked at my calendar yesterday morning and was so happy to see blank white boxes all in a row~no doctor’s appointments, no tests, no commitments. I need this, because I’m just so tired. I am comforted knowing that I don’t have to leave the comfort and peace of my home unless I choose. That I can just be.

This relentless fatigue is getting in the way of my desired projects, but the one thing I have kept on top of since last week is going through all of my photos from late spring and all of summer. The task is an arduous but pleasurable one. I find that I am deriving lots of joy from it, but mostly a much needed sense of accomplishment. That feeling specifically has eluded me this year. It is so hard to feel useful and worthwhile when illness plays such a prominent role in my life. I find that, every day, I have to work on adjusting my beliefs and not holding on to such a rigid definition of what success means.

With that said, while I’m not happy with every single photo I take, I certainly can feel good about some of the ones I create, and that is a victory. I am grateful for the opportunity to go out and explore when my health allows, to develop my eye and continue my mastery of every knob and mode on my camera. Yesterday I went through the hundreds of photos I have been saving from August, and I was reminded of the day my husband and I spent in the Tahoe National Forest.

Tahoe National Forest

On this precious Sunday we decided against going to Lake Tahoe itself. At the time, sadly, much of California was on fire, and word had gotten around that visibility around the jewel of the Sierras was very poor, the air thick and unhealthy with smoke. In the past I have been to Lake Tahoe when the air quality wasn’t good; there is something tragic about seeing the lake’s vivid, unrivaled blue in a heavy brown haze. So instead we veered off the usual trail and headed a bit north, visiting the town of Graeagle and a favorite spot called Sardine Lake not far from the Sierra Buttes.

Sardine Lake is a place my husband and I explored together early on in our marriage, and stopping there this time brought to life the inevitable comparison~the now unhealthy me to the vibrant and energetic me I used to be. The hike to upper Sardine Lake from the parking area is a mere 3/4 mile or so long, albeit a 3/4 mile of steep, rocky, uneven terrain peppered with boulders, better suited for 4-wheel drive vehicles instead of my now weary legs. When we followed this trail the first time it was so effortless for me; but this time, so many years later, I had to take it slow. Painfully slow. My tired body struggled to breathe and stay balanced. I grew frustrated, wanting to keep up with my husband when I couldn’t.

But sometimes, when we least expect it, that sign we dearly need is placed before us. This moment would be no different.

As I soldiered on, slowing down, trying not to fall, pain settling in, I looked down and saw a flower; stunningly gorgeous, and so delicate that a gentle, barely detectable breeze moved it back and forth. A bright, vivid pop of coral. A flower I couldn’t identify, that looked like a narrow, mountain version of a hibiscus. So fragile, yet it mightily grew from the formidable grey stone ground.

mountain flower

If this loveliness existed elsewhere along the trail or in this very same spot all those years before, the healthy me failed to notice. In witnessing this beauty on this day, as the person I am now, I was reminded of my own power; of strength in the face of the insurmountable.

 There is always purpose.

Always possibilities.

As the afternoon turned to evening, we reached the end of the trail and were rewarded with a cherished view. Another day well lived. Another day spent in love. Another day of gratitude.

Another day of experiencing the joy of the unexpected and the perspective it can bring.

Have a glorious week.

Lower Sardine Lake, Tahoe National Forest

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