The logo for this blog was abstracted from and inspired by the Grand Tetons which border the smooth and rippling blues of Lake Jenny in Wyoming. I remember hitting 15 skips on that water last June while postured atop the cluttered, clattering gray pebbles of the cooling beach, overseeing the panoramic vista of these sharp and jagged rock formations from the other side, the lake breeze gently mixing in with the summer wind, laughing heartily while making silly bets with good friends.
If you followed the skip line of the pebble to the other side of the lake just one day before, you’d find my friends and I far above lake level on June 15th, hiking between the towering masses of rock – backpacks, nalgenes, protein bars and all – maneuvering along a chalky dirt path. Piled rock and boulders bordered the path, circumnavigating the white-brimmed mountains which sat on both sides of us. 4 hours deep into the trail, soundless waterfalls came into view, cascading midway down the green-skirted slopes of the behemoths before us. Trees lined the mountain incline on the visible horizon as if waiting in patient anticipation to meet their maker at the pinnacle. Here and there, a marmot would sit lazily on a rock nearby, calling out in brief and squeaky chirps not unlike the scuff of a traction-less running shoe against cold hallway tile. Spare creek water would find its way, and when the cold mountain water collected on a flat plane, there you would find the brawny necks of antler-crowned moose craned downward for an evening reprieve.
At some point in time, a poncho-necessitating storm blew through and clouds shadowed the crags. Raindrops fell through the thick forests of limbs, muddying up our boots and darkening the cotton collar shown through the vulnerable edges of my clear plastic poncho – the same constrained sound you hear when raindrops pummel the sides of a nylon tent. Interestingly enough, our conversation ran dry and so had our water supply. Another creek appeared along the way and we took the opportunity to replenish fluids. A refrigerated bottle of overpriced Fiji could never compete with the strong current of cold mountain water sifting through our pump-action water filter.
Around 4 pm, the sun was setting in slow and painful fashion – as suns of the West naturally do. The horizon dimmed orange and canary yellow slighted the sky above. Moving into more reclusive regions of the trail, snow began to coat the grounds and it became seldom-place that we passed the common tourist. We found a couple standalone rocks which were bound to the side of a trail turned icy and then stopped to review our progress so far. One of our crew mapped out the roundtrip to be about 8 miles. We were to circle a portion of the park until we hit the main entrances once again, but mountains still roamed into the foreseeable distance for miles on end. There would be no such “roundtrip”.
Decked out in full winter gear with two sharpened trekking poles at his side, a clean-trimmed beard of a man in his 40s approached from the opposite direction. In calm forbearance, a formal midwestern accent inquired on our travels. It came to be known that he was a seasoned traveler of the western national park hemisphere and, familiar with the area, he asked where we were headed with a curiosity clearly gleaned from careful consideration of our current attire. We relayed the information and he informed us of where we were headed: towards an icy epicenter of certain death without the proper gear. The 8-mile roundtrip we so assuredly sought was cooked up to a cartographer’s simple model dismally misinterpreted. We thanked him as a God-send and turned around.
This oversight changed a projected 8 miles into 14, and so we were heading back the way we came with tails between our legs. An additional 6 miles was quite the inconvenience given our time frame; the sunset was nigh. Boot-rubbing blisters ensued. Making it back before dark made a livid pace essential given the nature of things.
This revelation, however altering, is not where the significance of my story begins. We were too busy getting where we were going from the moment we set foot on this trail; and I’m not just talking about the Grand Tetons. Since the day we were born and capable of consolidating significant collections of memories, you and I have been moving in fast-forward with an ever-growing tendency to press a replay button on “the good ole days”. It’s only natural. Daylight burns, the flame wanes and it is eventually extinguished. People set their eyes on the pinnacle only to overlook the diamonds at their feet. Weary travelers succumb to the projected pleasures of their destination only to overlook the ticket that got them there. We lose our moments too quickly, and so we mentally rewind in the hopes that we can harvest some sort of silver-lining justification for a rushed time frame of our own doing.
I was never going to have an anthill moment in the Grand Tetons. We were on a tight schedule. In my first blog post The Anthill Moment, I had previously mentioned that this was one of many destinations on an itinerary stretched across America, all within a span of two weeks. Night driving was a common necessity. I will never forget these grand experiences with grand friends. But anthill moments eluded us because we had a schedule to keep.
This outcome is to be expected, but the metaphor gives leeway to coin a new term called “The Grand Distraction”. Distractions can come in the form of retrospective analyses, current encumbrances external to the moment, back-of-the-mind anxieties, fleeting thoughts, and obvious technologies at our fingertips like smart phones and cameras. They all have one thing in common: activities that cause an unintentional loss in time, speculating on potential futures, reviewing time gone by, or attempting to capture time itself. So time is our “Grand Distraction”, the antithesis of the “Anthill Moment”.
The Grand Teton metaphor of a generally rushed time frame has framed this logo for what it is: The Anthill Moment at conflict with The Grand Distraction, its sinister counterpart. This is a representation of what I experienced in deep contrast with what I could have experienced. It should serve as a reminder for what we can all experience from this moment forth if we live a life based on intentionality and mindfulness.
I hope that the logo inspires this in us:
1. A rejuvenation of our life experiences through mindful appreciation of all resources at hand, disregarding the need to add or take anything away
2. To do less speaking and let the moment speak to us
3. To further the “what could be” in our lives by setting our focus on the “what is”
4. To partake and actively engage in life, realizing that each moment is a unique and limited opportunity with endless possible outcomes
5. The practice of intentional present-tense awareness
6. To alter our perspectives in each moment through positive redirection, thereby making the magnificent out of the mundane; to make a mountain out of an anthill
The hopeful outcome:
To lose track of time itself and find a recurrent, unexpected passion for every experience and learning opportunity that life offers.
So in truth, this flame of time never fully extinguishes. It wanes and consistently flickers into entirely new dawns. In this we find the opportunity to exact a purpose upon each moment, focusing on what is before us in the present. We can make big plans for our future but we should never do it at the cost of our present.
Has a picture ever evolved a moment into a higher form of pleasure except to look at the photo later on and reminisce? Panoramic photos are a paradoxical god attempt at capturing the entirety of an experience in one shot. Have you ever surveyed the full expanse of the image, piece by piece beyond the lens with your own two eyes in reality itself? No. You file it away for a later post on social media and say with vigor, “Look where I am!” and “Look what I saw!” without ever finding the opportunity to examine the details of beauty for yourself. We never see with our own two eyes and lose the moment as quickly as we capture it. Quite the paradox if you ask me.
Check out these pictures I took on my trip out West!
“..if you followed the skip line of the pebble to the other side of the lake”
“..the green-skirted slopes of the behemoths before us”
“..piled rock and boulders bordered the chalky dirt path”
“..soundless waterfalls came into view”
Now let’s say I’m poking fun at myself. I have been assertive and far from humble thus far. Do I regret taking these pictures? Were these brief stops worth a minute spent in order that I may look back and share in some kind of revelry at what occurred in days gone past? Did I miss a moment along the way? To be honest, I’m not sure. I think I’m happy to have these pictures in my possession.
A waiter has set a plate at your table. Attention has been paid to every detail and your tab is on the house. The ingredients are exotic. The smell is intoxicating. It will cut like butter. There is a high probability that you have never tasted anything better in your life. Also, you won’t feel sick when you go home. You adjust your camera to an unrealistic filter setting, take a picture, stand up, tuck your chair in and walk away.
Shall we continue to live this way, never tasting fully of what life has to offer? The precipice of our life adventures is neither above nor below but within. Stop looking back and stop looking forward. Don’t pass up the more common and repetitious of your day-to-day lives in a rush to find the overlook. We are here. Settle the napkin on your lap and feast.
A big thank you to my good friend Michelle Jimenez for taking time out of her busy schedule to design the logo and watercolor-crafted home page header image! Michelle graduated with a Bachelor’s in Interior Design. Give her a follow on Instagram @m1chellemybelle.