Tag Archives: mountains

It’s Not Just About the Destination

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“It’s not just about the destination” sums up my thoughts while traveling to escape the noise and fast pace of the city and my work-business life. It is not to escape who I am or what I love to do… my passion and commitment are firm, although, at times, I doubt the strength I have to continue on certain paths. Plagued by self-assessment, as anyone might be while trying to navigate the rough roads of every day, I often wonder if I should just run off on some other trail–change my direction–change my destination. Then, I remind myself… it’s not just about the destination because, in fact, we all end up the same place anyway. It is all about how you see your journey there and I am constantly reminding myself to stay in the moment without worry about what happens in the end. Therefore, I do realize that I see things somewhat differently depending upon my situation and location. This trip was about certain goals, but everything in between, before, and after is up to fate and fortune. What you make of a day is really what thought you put into it and the effort afforded to enjoy every moment. It will all be there when you return, so to worry about “what to do” or “what about” or “what if” is a waste of such a beautiful surrounding.

I am happy I am able to reflect on the time I take away–this time we were really tired at the end of the day and barely had supper and did a few mundane tasks before sleep claimed us. There is something about the mountain air and being out in the beauty of nature that fills you with enough that you are pleasantly exhausted. My knees couldn’t help but remind me that I did more than usual even though I try to do it on purpose, whenever I can, in order to claim every minute of the day in action. To bed early–one would think we’d stay up late writing… however, a tired body won out over a determined mind this week.

Day One arrival was nice and early and we could even check into our hotel room and then go exploring on Wednesday. We took a trip to the Beaver Boardwalk–my daughter recommended it last trip, but we didn’t make it there. Going this time was a treat. What a beautiful nature spot in Hinton! Yes, we have our ponds and walkways here at home, but sorry, Sherwood Park, the most obvious thing missing is setting… I sometimes (well, often) wonder why I still live here with so much soul/spirit connection to the mountains. This park was the perfect way to spend a couple of hours, wandering the boardwalk through the marshes and beaver habitat, traipsing some closer-in trails, and taking a look-out post in the tower to admire the view. I say closer-in because I am not one to wander onto the forest trails–hiking was a younger days sport for me due to my limitations, ones I have accepted, and am able to push to some extent enjoyment of the activities. Also, there’s the fact that we are in wildlife territory and bears and cougars just don’t excite me up close and personal. From the truck window, I am a brave soul – not on foot, however.

Trips away with my dear friend, Mandy, make me appreciate her even more because of the similarities we have –I don’t have to try to keep up and do things I feel out of my comfort zone with… we match in many ways–our appreciation for nature and its fragility to human invasion; yet, the strength and majesty and power of it awes us in the same breath. I could travel the same roads and see the same sights each day or weekend or whatever, and still be in wonder at the amazing embrace of nature–the bold colors of plants, the cuteness of a baby animal, the calming peace of water and wind, the warmth of sun–even if it only peaked through clouds throughout most of our mid-week trip.

We never lost sight of the reason for our trip, although it was in the back of our minds as we connected with the precious moments of each opportunity. The Beaver Boardwalk was more than just walking through a nature setting–it was about stopping and appreciating the finer details of plants, trees, the view, the colors, the sounds, smells, and feel of it all on your soul. Nature caresses one’s spirit with renewing qualities to create a mood of relaxation and connection. There was no sign of any wildlife–other than a couple of birds and fish in the ponds. I wondered about the lack of waterfowl on the ponds… Mr. and Mrs. Beaver must have been relaxing in the shade of their studious home–we saw signs of them being around, of course, but no chance sighting of the animals.

Impressions of the place are best in point form, because that is how they hit you when you are in the moment:

  • The song of the red-wing blackbird
  • The amazing arrangement of wooden walkways over water
  • The variety of flora with bursts of color that stand out so vivid against the greenery
  • The sound and tempo of the wind through the trees as it rises and falls
  • Sun peeking through the overhead canopy in an otherwise dull cloudy sky
  • The man who looked at me funny for taking an overhead picture… yes, look up, too!
  • Wire mesh protecting perimeter trees from industrious beaver clearing crews
  • Signs giving information about the place: make less noise to see more wildlife or be aware and cautious and informed of bears, cougars, wolves… :O
  • Picking up a couple of interesting stones from the rock pathway to commemorate
  • The lookout tower and amazing view of the nearby mountains through the trees
  • Patterns in nature–ripples on the water, long grass blowing in the wind, piles of drift-water-worn limbs

My thoughts may not match anyone else except for those who have the same appreciation for the beauty and magnificence of nature. But, even in that similarity, there are personal differences. The photos I take are not ones that another may take as I look for the shot that appeals to me; I don’t take people pictures; I don’t do selfies. I want the essence of the place where I am–what attracts me, what speaks to me. To each their own.

The take-away for this activity–always invest in the time to enjoy “every precious moment,” as a friend posted. The emotions that grab me in the mountains are awe-inspiring, captivating, yet overwhelming, at the same time. The thought that this glorious world we live in surrounds us for so short a time in comparison to its own life span is one for self-contemplation. No matter what you believe, it’s what adds to a beautiful life–it’s not just about the destination.

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Introspective Perspective

Random thoughts while driving…

The meeting was set for 1:00 pm on Saturday in the quaint coffee house, Pebble Ridge, in Rocky Mountain House. My new author is from Red Deer and it would be a short drive west for him to finally meet to discuss his book project.

I started out from home at 8:00 am, filled the tank, and got a cold drink to go. I couldn’t understand why I was so thirsty so early, but realized it might have been the consumption of wine the evening before… Rested and raring to go, it was easy to rise and pack and hit the road early. Although another route was more direct, I chose the longer way to enjoy the journey. It’s not always about the destination – although that can be important – how you get there, too, makes all the difference sometimes. For one – heading west always feels right and, for two, taking the Cowboy Trail is a good choice because it feels right, too. I’ve been this way before a few times lately (highway 16 west to highway 22 south), but I love the drive – the feel of it relaxes me and sets my mind free of city encumbrances. Driving alone, however, is open game for thinking – good and bad. If I don’t want to think, I play music to drown out the persistent voices, the constant thoughts, the never ending discussion between the realist and the dreamer. The radio station fades away and I play the soundtrack from Cavalia or Maroon 5.

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A robin poses for a close up shot.

A bumblebee buzzes around the windows looking for in or through or whatever. Sunshine sits in the Miette Hot Springs parking lot looking like a big yellow flower in a meadow of concrete – tasty temptation for the timid little bee. I roll my driver’s side window up and two seconds later it attempts to say a closer hello. A robin hops nearby on the pathway along the trees, and I mega zoom in on it – magnifying its feathers and bright eyed curiosity. I sit contemplating my move. I remain there for about an hour, reading, calming frazzled nerves that poke in and out of the relaxing peace. I cannot explain the diametrically opposed pieces of my mind. Happy. Sad. Inspired. Depressed. Peaceful. Anxious. The parking lot fills up – it’s time to move on.

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I could see the same view day after day and it would still humble me, overwhelm me with its magnificence.

When I drive the mountain roads I cannot believe the feelings that wash over me. I often wonder if those people who speed by in fast cars, neglecting the stop at look outs, ignoring points of interest, not even slowing down to enjoy the wildlife – I wonder, if they ever feel the emotion I do in the mountains. Perhaps, they did the trip before and it’s no big thing. Perhaps, they are too focused on the end point to notice the points of interest along the way. My emotions run the gamut – my mind stops, starts, and suspends itself in the magnificence of my surroundings. I am soothed by its beauty, overwhelmed and humbled by its magnitude. I cry at the thought of leaving this world and never seeing such beauty again. Then, I admonish myself for silliness and return to revel in the moment.

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Distant waterfall cascades down the mountain.

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An eagle flies o’er mountain high…

At a roadside turnout, high above the river below, I stop along the guardrail to take in the vast panorama. Mountains with snow covered peaks, shimmering shale rocks, greenery of all shades. A distant waterfall cascades down the mountainside. The telephoto lens brings the river from the valley floor and the highest shimmering rock face to me as if in reach. Out of the corner of my eye I see it – circling, circling, circling… Soaring on upper air currents, the large bird covers the sky in wide spread wings, so high it is even a speck in my lens. I am not sure of the species of raptor, but the bird is magnificent. The words to the sound about love lifting us up, come to mind and ring in my head, prompting tears to spring to my eyes, again.

The trip wasn’t totally about doing everything I love, but it encompassed some of the ‘musts’. I already mentioned the Highway 22 South route – well, 11 West is a dream and being in Rocky Mountain House with a free night ahead of me meant I couldn’t pass up the chance to see things I love and traverse the route with such beauty. My travels now include limits, however. Due to health issues, there are limits I never had to consider before, but there they are, forefront in planning and executing events. Accepting I have limitations both angers and frustrates me. In moments of appreciation, I think of all the things I’ve done and all the things I still can do. I digress and say thanks – at peace with the body’s changes. With those thoughts, I decided I would explore some different things/places amongst the wonderfully familiar, while taking time to clear my head and rest my back and knees.

For the most part, driving is easy until I log too many hours in the Sunshine saddle – then the back begins to remind me of its chronic pain. I need to stretch and walk a bit to loosen up the muscles and work the knees. Refreshing road weary eyes is always a good thing, too. My stops are frequent because of the awe I feel – lots of pictures return home with me – but, I temper my attempt at each stop depending upon my ability. Many times, I am the best darned truck window photographer! Since I stopped at Athabasca Falls last year on the reverse trip, I decided I would stop at Sunwapta Falls this time. However, I couldn’t proceed past the parking lot because, although only a .1 km hike to the vantage points overlooking the water, all of the pathway is a downhill grade and that is a no-no for the knees. Acceptance of limitation. I listened to the roar of the water rushing below, thankful for my sense of hearing and sight.

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A decision to stop for the day to rest weary bones offered me opportunity to stay in a place I never stayed before… another new experience.

The need to keep in motion produces undesirable effects. The conundrum being more movement = activity = weight loss, but more movement = pain = exasperation! The pills I am on to manage pain help with numbing it so I can sleep and I don’t get overtired, sometimes. Depending on the activity (and the weather) my pain is what it is – constant. At times, it is excruciating, forcing me to just take things easy. Doctor’s orders are movement, keep active, but my body’s response is anything but accommodating. I most likely will need double knee replacement surgery, but the weight loss is a must in order to proceed in that direction. The weekend needed to be modified with extended rest to recover bothersome knee pain. The prior long weekend retreat tired me out – 2nd floor rooms in a lodge meant stairs multiple times per day. I mentioned this concern to my doctor on a previous visit. I took it very slow. Writing, yes. Stair master, no.

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6th Bridge – the sounds of birds and rushing water soothed. When the small parking filled, I escaped with pictures to remember it by.

It was exciting to travel familiar roads, but also intriguing to discover new ones. I took some time to discover 6th Bridge where I sat for some time reading. I took some pictures of the water and the bridge, then vacated when it started to get busy. Bikers, hikers, and other sightseers. The road to Miette Hot Springs was awesome – winding, curving, bordered by cliffs, rises, and lots of trees. It took me deeper into the back country. Again, I parked and listened to the birds, did some reading, and took pictures. As before, I backtracked and headed to the highway and proceeded east on 16. East is not good. It means leaving behind something as profound as the images of the Rockies in my mirror that soon fade from sight. My mood soured despite respite in the glorious mountains. How can one feel so inflated, yet depressed? So inspired, yet so empty? So determined to do better with renewed vigor – all the while, feeling overwhelmed with all that lays ahead… Prospects and potential paralyze – how can that be?

The comfort I take in all of this is my ability to see the beauty, appreciate the wonder, realize the potential for danger or recognize opportunity, and even laugh at myself with good humor, as necessary. The feelings described above hit me every time I leave the mountains to return home, leaving me to wonder why I never moved there if such a connection rips my very soul by their separation from my view. I concede – I was fearless in my youth and have become jaded in my aging even though I would certainly consider the move – looking around the little cabin I rented I surmised – “I could live here.”

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Amazing colors… there’s probably shiny things and a squirrel in there, too 😉

So to end this blog about perspective and its inward retrospection while getting away – I leave you with a tip while driving throughout the Alberta countryside. Be aware that if Main Street is blocked off in Small Town, Alberta – and there are people pulling lawn chairs to the curb side – it could mean there is a celebration you are not privy to. I wondered why that little girl waved to me… All I could think was how lucky I was I had such a beautiful, bright truck! Sunshine was in her glory parading by the locals… oh, look, what a beautiful tree!

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2014 comes to a close…

The end of another year… it seems to be the place to look for new beginnings. The year ahead may hold major change, needed adjustments, or an unknown future. In this moment, we may just be looking forward to an evening with friends or one in quiet contemplation… no matter which way you decide to usher in the New Year, I encourage you to look back over the last 12 months with positive reflection. Take note of the good things that happened, these are the memories that will carry you through into 2015 and beyond. To all my writing friends and readers of my blog, I thank you for your never-ending support and appreciation. I look forward to the New Year with a renewed commitment to my writing and creativity. Happy New Year everyone and here’s to another awesome year in this amazing journey!

2014 personal recap for FB

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Day 4 – Catering to the Lazy Artist

Easter Long Weekend 2014 Blog Pictorial – continued…

Fresh air and exploration takes it out of you – or, perhaps, it’s that feeling of satisfaction that just keeps you rooted to one spot – a happy, inspiring spot made for self-reflection and creativity. The camera was quiet today although the mind’s eye was a flicker with all the images snapped and transferred over the course of Day 2 and Day 3. Had I not found the horses yesterday, I would have been more eager to go out today – to seek and to find, confirming for myself that I could see them how they are, free, in nature. Had I not found the band I did, I would have had to go forth in order to fulfill my sense of holiday destiny.

If I had arrived Friday, I would have been moving on today, but the delay had a way of working out in the end especially when things are relaxed and flexible. Three days at “A Bed in Heaven” really was relaxing and desired. The weather held nicely today although the wind was cool at times, but in all reality, there is still snow on the ridges and hillsides nearby, in the fields and in the shadows – the breeze whispers chilling messages as it grasps the cold and flows by…  in its windy way, it asks me what I discovered on my journey. How can express my appreciation and gratitude for this opportunity? As I write, it is calm now and the sun’s warmth feels heavenly upon me as I sit on the deck outside my room.

I discovered, as I have known for many years, I am good on my own, with more than enough interests to keep me busy, entertained, and occupied. That does not mean I am alone, nor do I want to be for any length of time – I want to be in love and I want to care about people – I deserve those who love and care about me. It’s really like the saying: the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return. This… truly, has always been my quest.

I discovered that although I like to think I could go back to the ways of the world before the Internet and advanced communications, I don’t believe I could and don’t care to… there is just too much connectedness with my work and my networks through it to give it up completely. I have my lap top with me. I admit… I watched some TV. I checked emails and I posted to Facebook and to my blog. I could not text or phone, however… so it was quiet in a way that it isn’t when I am home. We are, though, bound to the limits of the technology itself. When there is no reception, no hook-ups, no way to connect… it doesn’t matter what you want or desire.

I discovered I am only limited by my own fears and insecurities – this is nothing to do with being loved, not about having friends or others around, not about jobs or work or money – but just about living without fear of what might happen. I keep to the path and stay safe. I know my limits and won’t push for more. I am contented with my journey – is it as exciting and adventurous as some? No. But it’s mine and I take it as I please. Because you step out of your comfort zone your mind tends to focus on the things you don’t know and cannot see – a cougar stalking you, coming across the path of a bear. In the wild, these things are my fears and tend to keep me tame in my quest. Again, with someone along for the hike, it might be a different story, but why put oneself in harm’s way, just because you can. I can treasure my memories because, for the most part, they are not marred by incident. Yesterday’s issue reminded me of being 23 and so wrapped up in my own little world, lost in a stranger’s arms, that it panicked a travel companion to the point of reporting me missing. I never wanted to be that person again – it leads me to believe you cannot ever be free without someone standing there with your bridle and reins, saying, “Dammit, where is she?”

Some general impressions of my Easter long weekend journey:

  • Why must some people throw cans and other garbage to the road side?
  • Why do some drivers of trucks have to drive so fast?
  • Why do those in a hurry travel the road less taken?
  • To some people, horses make a mess… really?
  • The numbers of wildies don’t warrant such opposition – less than a thousand animals? There is so much country out there – really?
  • The tallest of towers does not provide reception amongst the tallest of trees and the tallest of mountains.
  • My hosts at the B&B are amazing people.
  • I take too many pictures!! Good thing this is the digital age and not 32 mm film!! (Regarding my comment above about the camera being quiet… I just downloaded 42 pictures… and I didn’t even leave the deck…)
  • I see pictures in everything – except people – why is that? (My biggest regret was not having a recent picture of my mother – yet I still neglect the subject of people, for the most part.)
  • You can pack all the fruit and vegetables and cheese and nuts you want… I feel like I am going to eat a gazillion hamburgers upon my return.
  • As much as it would have been nice to have someone else along for the ride, I did do this thing for someone special… me!

Oh, yes… the lazy artist thing… well, I don’t think I was lazy at all. I only slept until 8:00. I worked on some editing. I read through and plotted the illustrations for two stories I am working on with one of my DWP authors. I wrote and posted 4 blogs so far. And I took a gazillion photos. I did not put any miles on the car today and plan to be up and out early tomorrow morning. I haven’t decided my return route but I like a road I have not taken before… or I could return the same way. Thinking like a wild horse… that’s the power of freedom.

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Day 3 – Easter Sunday

Easter Long Weekend 2014 Blog Pictorial – continued…

8:00 am

I spent time with my delightful hosts, Ingrid and Mike, over breakfast and coffee served in their beautiful, awe-inspiring home. It is built on a southwest facing parcel of land complete with trails and a creek, lots of trees and long winding driveway. They share their dream of coming to Canada and eventually obtaining this amazing property, building their home, and living each day to the fullest. Ingrid shares stories of sledding with her dogs, designing web sites from the very beginning, and Mike – he ensures firewood is always cut – their home is fully heated by a wood burning external fire “place” that channels warmth to the in-floor heating. A severely cold winter depleted the firewood stores…

My plan for the day was to go out and take pictures – make hay while the sun shines, so to speak – it was a beautiful foothills morning.

11:00 am

I am sitting in this bowl of sunshine and silence with an alpine breeze threading its way through the valley – it’s cool and it whispers through the pines. It comes down from the snow-covered ridges… listen to it. I am all alone, yet here, with respect and awe, I feel as if a part of something much large than me. No other traffic has passed me – no other life forms walk nearby. The tempo of the wind rises and falls, rustling the new evergreens… they sway and relay the soft sung message of the mountains. I can tell it is close to noon, now, as the sun is directly overhead, but as any city slicker would… I check my phone… 11:55 am. Some would think it crazy to just sit here alone. But always alert, I watch the weather, the roads, and listen to the sounds of nature all around me. I don’t wander off. I am not a hiker; besides Ingrid pointed out before I left – we are in bear country, and watch for the cougars… they are more of a threat. I haven’t seen any, yet.

The sky is that Alberta blue and the fluffy white clouds drift in, plump up, then scatter… leaving clear, direct warmth from the high noon sun. This is a great spot to bask in nature, draw its calming effects into my soul – take time to contemplate and write these feelings. This point is about 25 kilometers in and I decided this would be where I turn back because the road ahead not only climbs further into the back woods, it also appears to narrow, there is more snow, and it’s muddy from the seasonal melt. I do things I like to do but I don’t push the limits – a four-wheel drive and companion might allow for further exploration that way or another… or maybe even dry summer roads? There is no cell phone service here – my phone hasn’t picked up a tower since I left the B&B. I wrote this while sitting in the sun without worry to anything else. (Note to self: it would have been good to alleviate the ensuing issue by signing into the Wi-Fi before leaving on the day’s excursion… or perhaps, not taking a break from connectedness the night before by sleeping – could have got the Wi-Fi code the previous evening??? Oh, and don’t forget the backup Rogers Rocket Hub at home… because then you have absolutely no connection to anyone but yourself…)

I am almost a tearful happy it is so inspiring and almost too much – can that be? I hear my own heart beating and feel gladness having found my reason for this deep sojourn into the trees and foothills. I assume I found my wildies – the herd grazed contentedly along the edge of trees, scratching themselves on tree branches, and laying in soft pine needles. They watched me – parked at the road’s edge – and were not bothered to move on until I got out of my car. They didn’t rush off but took time to regard me with indifference as they ambled beyond the rise and down beyond to where I would not follow. The mare stopped to look once more.

The stallion came out of the trees to the right and stood to watch me, too. I took a couple of pictures; then let him be… the attention aroused him.

My writing was interrupted by a group of hikers descending from an adjacent path – time to return. The trip back was punctuated with more traffic, some speeding by – where are you going in such a hurry? So much for the quiet Easter morning trunk road… I understand the work crews and truckers who are making a dime, but do you others take the road less traveled so you can get to where you are going quicker? What happened to appreciating the journey?

1:30 pm

Arrived back at B&B to appease my friends and family of my status – I am fine. There is something to be said for disconnecting.

I feel disconcerted but am happy with my holiday discoveries. I am reminded of Ingrid’s statement at breakfast. She told me of taking a session on Time Management … and employers loved her ability to manage time. She wondered, however, of her ability to manage her life time… after all, you only have one.

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Day 2 – Wildies Unfounded

Easter Long Weekend 2014 Blog Pictorial – continued…

The delay was short-lived – Saturday morning dawned bright and full of sunshine and, as the day progressed, the temperature steadily increased. The roads were clear with the exception of the shaded parts into Mandy’s acreage in the morning – there I dropped the keys for pet sitting and garnered a hug and a wish for safe journey from a friend. It was a quick crossing as I bypassed Sherwood Park via the Yellowhead through Edmonton heading west. Ray was busy running errands so I only made a quick pit stop in Spruce Grove to pick up my morning coffee at the 7-11.

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I headed west on Highway 16 to take the Drayton Valley turn south. Highway 22 runs south along the foothills, jogging this way and that… it’s called the Cowboy Trail. I enjoy taking new ways to get places. Through Drayton Valley and east then south again into the County of Wetaskiwin headed for Rocky Mountain House… although I have been there before, this was a new way in for me. Clearwater County gave way to Mountain View County as I headed to Sundre from Caroline. It was then just a quick 30 minute trip west on 584 to my Bed & Breakfast reservations – A Bed in Heaven.

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From the door facing out… ah, well… self explanatory!

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From the door facing in – comfort and room to do as I please.

From my room you can see foothills to the southwest. I spent some time checking out the area and getting my bearings so I might travel a little further and in different directions. My hosts told me they had wildies at the corner beyond their property a couple of months ago. All the commotion in the area probably sent them further into the bush, however. I saw a helicopter circling the areas around Sundre as I drove through – it was probably totally unrelated.

My drive ventured to the Forestry Trunk Road but I doubled back soon thereafter knowing I would follow it on another trip – I had already driven most of the day what with stopping for picture-taking and all. I didn’t see any animals except these two contented ponies. They were inside fencing and appeared to be groomed – at least it was my perception – they are not wildies.

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Hazy sun and study of trees…

IMG_0302 …then back to the B&B… my evening was a little bit less exciting. I didn’t want to bother my hosts to ask for the Wi-Fi code and knew I could get it at breakfast in the morning. My cell phone was not picking up any signal so I could not message anyone… I downloaded the pictures from the day… 66… and then wrote the beginning of this post. I was tired so I went to bed early. It was a good start to my weekend holiday.

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September Long Weekend

I don’t know what it is about this weekend that makes it so striking in its memories.

Perhaps, it is just because the time of year finds some things ending and others just beginning. It is like spring in that regard where newness takes on a personality of its own guiding us into the upcoming unknown – whether it is season, project, or feeling, with seemingly little effort. We don’t struggle as much with this season because it eases us into the change with such beauty – all of nature calls to us: cooling winds and comfortable sleep, shorter days cut by silent seconds, calling geese practise overhead, and trees slip silent into their golden frocks. There is a change that comes with turning the calendar page to read: September. The long weekend is like taking another stab at failing summer, hoping to get in one last… … …

For me, one of my favorite short stories is written based on a trip to the mountains I took many years ago. It has morphed in length and words to become the compact piece provided below. In recent memory, the long weekend signaled the true ending to several emotional events including acceptance that a trip east did not work out as planned and a passionate one night stand signed off a no hope relationship. It also warns of impending work over the long stretch ahead and planning is realized. But of the simpler times when young hormones raged and understanding love was yet to be discovered, Keep on Smiling is a memory written from those emotional depths and as the Stones said… I was looking for an “emotional rescue.”  

KEEP ON SMILING

I remember the day I met RJ like it was yesterday. It was the long weekend in September and my friend and I had driven to the mountains just to get away. At 23, I was having difficulties with dating and love. I was “sowing my wild oats,” if you could refer to a woman as such; working hard and partying harder. I equated sex with love and if it were true I might have found happiness.

I had recently dropped out of University and was searching for myself yet wondering if Mr. Right would ever come along. My efforts to find him were futile. “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places” was my theme song. I thought I was supposed to find Mr. Right and get married. Up until then I had been so sure of my future. It would have included law school but when I discovered I enjoyed immediate things, I picked the easy way out.

That weekend in Banff found us doing things we loved. We did a lot of sight-seeing and a little shopping. A cool breeze was already starting to blow down from the snow-covered peaks but it was a glorious weekend.

After a full day, we changed and headed back to the evening crowds. We chose a quaint little restaurant where we ordered our meal complete with wine. After nine o’clock, most of the local eateries transformed into dance clubs and we remained there for the rest of the evening. The crowds, the dance beat, the drinking until all hours; “Emotional Rescue” by the Stones was playing. And there he was.

He was medium height and athletic; dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. What I noticed were his eyes ~ they pierced your very soul. His dark hair was on the long side with one of those light patches in the front. Striking!

We danced. We connected. My heart was lost in one fell swoop… again. We talked. He was going to Vancouver to make his way in the world. He was fun to be with. He stole my heart. We spent the night together holding each other close trying to make the magic last. I remember lying awake at one point thinking about the morning fast approaching. Daylight. It would soon be here and we would be leaving. So would he.

I tended to forget I was with my friend and by morning she was frantic when I hadn’t returned. Didn’t she realize I was clinging to another chance at love? My indignation was unfounded as my feelings usually came first with my exploits leaving someone in the lurch while I went about my quest.

I left RJ in the early morning. My friend had packed in a frenzied worry. She cruised the streets; making a stop at the local RCMP detachment, she was advised I was not yet considered a missing person. She returned to the B&B. There I was. She was not impressed but I offered no excuses.

As we drove away, it was not just silence that returned home with me. I couldn’t explain my feelings. My heart ached in that empty sort of way. RJ had come to mean so much in such a short time, it was painfully hard to accept, let alone explain. I felt like I left something behind.

Looking back over that weekend and my fondness for it, I remember something he said to me; something that has remained with me all these years. When we parted ways (me in that tearful way I do), he gently touched my face. He didn’t say good-bye. He just said, “Keep on smiling.” Then… he went his way… and I, mine.

That chance meeting remains one of my fondest memories. I often wonder what happened to RJ. I never did know him by anything other than RJ. I don’t even know what RJ stood for. To me, now, it represents the temporary happiness of the time even if the void I felt afterwards lingered. The memory of the time embraces me with a warmth I cannot explain and when I am filled with yearning I just remember all I have to do is…”keep on smiling.”   

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Filed under On Dreaming, On Life, On Thinking, On Writing