I woke up with the first few rays of sun creating a soft pink glow over the East, and as I unzipped my tent I was greeted with the most spectacular sight! The soft morning sky held the moon directly in front of my tent flap, as if she had been waiting to greet me "good morning" before she dipped into the sea. It was now officially the first day of summer, and I was waking up to a new season as a changed woman.
I made a hot cup of coffee, bundled up, and walked down my campsite's trail to my private cliff, sketchbook in hand. Sitting down in the soft dewy earth, I watched the color of the water change with the rising sun. I noticed how turquoise the water was as it rippled around the bottom of rocks and boulders. Then I started thinking about rocks.
How amazing is it that a rock can just keep on being so strong after thousands of years of enduring tens-of-tons of water smashing against its surface? Could it be that rocks are like the skeleton of the earth? I've always thought of the sea as being the lungs of the Earth....
...I'll be honest here and tell you that I have no idea where this concept of rocks and saltwater will go, but it was a beautiful morning of watching, observing, and drawing.
As the sun began to touch the tip-tops of the coastal mountains around me, anticipation and excitement began to form butterflies in my belly...I was about to finally see something that I had been dreaming of seeing for years...Julia Pfieffer Falls!
After packing up my campsite, and after loading my backpack full of drawing supplies, I set out on the trail. What met my eyes was beauty beyond anything I could have imagined. So beautiful that I almost couldn't take it all in at once. My solution to this sensation is almost always to pull out my pen and draw.
After sketching for several minutes with my straw hat pulled low over my eyes, I suddenly felt the presence of another human very close to my side. I looked up and locked eyes with an extremely handsome man who seemed around my same age...seriously no joke, this ACTUALLY happened and it's hilarious! So naturally, I became flustered and began to frantically draw, hoping he would maybe just go away. Nope. He continued to watch me and began to ask questions about me, my work, my life, and my hometown. In return I asked him questions and found out that he was touring around the West Coast with coffee samples from his coffee farm in Laos! Pretty rad.
I continued to draw and he continued to watch. It was one of those moments that felt like I was in a movie. Anyway, he took down my name, and me being my awkward self instantly forgot his name and didn't get any contact information from him. (So if you're reading this and you were that guy I met at the falls, I'm sorry!)
Anyway, after he left I found myself laughing at the absurdity of the last 20 minutes of my life, followed by tears streaming down my face over the beauty and how grateful I was to finally feel real peace and joy. I felt so alive and free.
After the falls I decided to head to Big Sur Bakery for a quick lunch before driving up to meet my host in Santa Cruz. As I hopped out of the van I felt my phone buzz for the first time in three days...I looked down, shocked to have service, and then it happened. ANXIETY.
I felt my stomach do a somersault and instantly looked for a bathroom. This was my first time dealing with a bodily reaction of anxiety, and it was not fun.
I left the bathroom and paced around the garden, telling myself to calm down, to breath, to pray, and when ready, to eat some food. I was off balance, caught off guard, and needed time to align myself in order to properly deal with my relationship to anxiety once again.
I looked at my phone and saw all the texts I had missed. I opened up my email and saw all of the unanswered questions, order inquires, and correspondences that had been left without response for three days. I opened my Instagram and saw activity that I had not anticipated seeing, including one very unpleasant surprise of a rip off of my work...no I didn't want this. I just wanted to hike back to the falls and feel the bliss that I just experienced. Not this, anything but this.
I put my phone in my backpack, ordered food, and pulled out my journal and my book.
"Those who participate in change must participate in death." - Elizabeth O'Conner
My booked just so happened to be about living in the tension of letting go, of bringing about inner change, and letting your old self die.
"I felt a sharpening in my willingness to let my false, egoistic patterns pass away- all the things I clung to for meaning, success, security, and validation. I knew that these patterns included not only the images I had of myself but the ones others had of me. I needed to let them die." Sue Monk Kidd
And when my problems with a relationship came flooding over my mind, and when my anxieties about another relationship that have been hovering over me for two years appeared in my mind, I read "I would have to die to the old roles and images of myself in relation to him [or her]. I couldn't tag behind him [or her] through life."
My food had arrived at my table. A giant homlett sizzled and cracked in front of me and I don't remember how it got there. I began to eat, slowly thinking of how this place had brought me so much peace, and how now I needed to prepare myself for the journey of returning to life as it was, but with the approach of newness. With the approach of letting go, and holding onto the strength of death of old habits and birth of new beginnings.
"My letting go wasn't complete and perfect. I know that. The process continues on in us forever, I suppose. But I sensed that this was my moment to express the shifting I felt inside. It was the beginning of leaving behind the first half of my life and those ways of living it that no longer worked. What I was walking toward, I had no idea." (Pg 118)
It's as if Sue Monk Kidd wrote this book specifically for me and this moment. I finished my food, feeling nourished and strengthened, and journaled out my anxiety in specifics. After praying over the things that I had written, I invited the Divine to be my guide in this process, and to be my protection against the darkness of anxiety.
I took a deep breath, closed my books, and stood up. Ready. It was time to now do the hard part- living out the epiphanies from the seaside mountain. Enacted enlightenment. I realized that this whole journey is my moment of expressing the shifting I feel inside myself, it is my way of leaving behind the first half of my life and those things that didn't serve it, and it is my way of bravely walking into the unknown. God, make me like that rock I drew this morning, steady and true against the tides.
I forced myself to smile, and felt the energy of positivity flow down my body. I choose peace. I will train my mind on thanksgiving. Hopping back in my van I said goodbye to Big Sur and thanked the land for all that it had taught me, and for shaping me into newness.