Sunday, June 01, 2014

Promises

"She still speaks to the little girl who wanted to be an artist, a doctor, a poet, a wing-walker. She listens when that little girl talks, when she paints pictures of the clouds, when she's drawn something huge in sidewalk chalk. She makes her every day a place for old dreams and new dreams, dreams that tower and dreams that whisper." 
--I Am Her

As a child, my mode of transportation was escapism.  Unfortunate early experiences formed many of my adult beliefs about  trust, friendship, life and the pursuit of happiness.  Finding meaning, goodness and light were concepts I had to search for well outside of my own reality.  I just didn't know it at the time but that search would last a lifetime. 

I'm fairly candid about background, my childhood was tough. Survival instincts unfortunately for some come at a young age.  Back then, I never questioned its origin, the instinct was just always there as long as I could remember.  In the darkest days, I felt guided by an inner voice, a calm voice that had a sense of wisdom, compassion and incredible kindness.  That voice would lead me often out of danger, walk me through the pain and assure me that I was indeed worthy of that light that I knew was just around the corner. You're gonna be ok... I listened with complete and utter trust. 

Searching and exploring became an early childhood theme and often had precarious consequences. I explored the city in the underground aqueduct systems, sometimes running into a subset of people who lived there. I had a fascination with the neighborhood train and despite my mother's warnings that playing with the train would result in losing my legs, I hopped on it and rode it hanging off the side ladders. I sat on our roof often and daydreamed. I escaped out my upstairs window to roam the city at all hours of the night. I ran away from home several times in elementary school, once to go live inside Disneyland. I had it all planned out. 

I told people that when I grew up, I was going to be Forest Ranger. In the library, I'd sit on the floor and escape into National Geographic Magazine or any travel or hiking magazines. For hours at a time I lived in those magazines and could only dream of such places. Landscapes and geological structures struck such a chord with my desire to seek out peace and beauty far outside of my own world. Peace of mind was a destination and that inner voice, she made promises. 

I learned to paint and draw and escaped into the world of art. A place I found endless possibilities of beautiful light, color, creation, self-expression and self-awareness. I attribute its influence as one of the major grounding and stabilizing factors in a young directionless life. 



As I grew older, I became an avid hiker in California and Arizona. Several years ago, I sought to chronicle and photograph my explorations via my blog.  Knowing that one day I may not be able to continue on physically yet wanting to remember my life with my writing and my photography.  The process of photographing my wanderings then became an all consuming passion of its own. The photography continues to refine me, define me and soften the rough edges, thankfully. 


Fast forward. Several months ago, while hiking the Narrows in Zion, I had this profound moment. I'd become aware that I kept looking behind me. Almost as if I'd left something behind. I finally stopped to sort of this desire to look back. I turned around and I was standing all alone in this beautiful canyon, red sandstone cliffs
thousands of feet high and as  I stopped to reflect for a moment an enormous rush of emotion came flooding in. 

Suddenly brought back to that child who sat on a library floor and dreamed of being somewhere else, dreamed of finding a way out, dreamed of a magical and fascinating world that only existed in the pages of a magazine. I was hiking in a place I'd seen on those pages all those years ago.  I realized, I was standing in the middle of that dream and it was no longer just a page, it was my life. 

That reassuring and kind  voice that made promises to a child trying to find the light in a very dark world had always been my own voice. 

I was living the life that I had promised I would. The journey came full circle. It was one of the most empowering moments of my life. 

I made a promise and I kept it. 

I brought light to that child and lit the darkness and I'll continue to do so the rest of my life.