Collapsed cabin along hwy 20
Collapsed cabin along Highway 20. Photo © Jane Alynn.

Certain events in life tend to shake the ground on which you stand, upending carefully cast beliefs and habitual states of mind.

Think of losing a loved one, a serious accident or diagnosis, a breakup or job loss, things that happen in life that we neither choose nor can anticipate. These events can precipitate tectonic shifts.

Then, there are the changes we choose, such as having a baby, moving, or changing jobs. Even travel can challenge your usual way of being in the world.

Pico Iyer, in “Why We Travel,” writes: “It [travel] cracks you open, and so pushes you over all the walls and low horizons that habits and defensiveness set up.”

My recent journey to the Okanagan Country in Washington and Canada and to the Kootenay Rockies was just such an experience.

I left with a pledge I would go unplugged. Except for a few posts to Instagram, I, indeed, was disconnected from my network.

Instead, I engaged with people and place; and I made photographs.

I made photographs every day. I wasn’t checking my email several times a day or obsessively viewing posts from Facebook friends or responding to intrusive messages on my Facebook page, reminding me I haven’t posted in 25 days.

In short order, my pressure cooker mind slowed down.

Interestingly, the project I was working on was of ghost towns and the structures that remain. There’s nothing like being among old ruins to remind you of the passage of time!

So, now that I’m home and back in my studio, reflecting on my experiences, I have made a vow to reset my life, honoring my priorities above all other distractions.

Vital and thus deserving of most of my time and attention are photographing, developing projects that I love and that say something; reading and writing; giving space to thought and silence; being with family and friends; traveling; staying healthy; and making a positive contribution to the world.

That’s enough, isn’t it?

Abandoned barn along Old Toroda Road, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn. Abandoned homestead in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.
Abandoned building in Bodie
Abandoned building in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.
Abandoned building in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.
Abandoned building in Bodie
Old building, young birch in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.
Window in an abandoned building in Bodie
Window in an abandoned building in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.
Abandoned cabin in Old Toroda
Abandoned cabin in Old Toroda, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.
Collapsing barn in Malo
Collapsing barn in Malo, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mom,

    Again, what an inspiration you are to my life. Your reflections remind me that it’s never too late in life to evaluate, or reevaluate your priorities.

    What are the things that are most important to us? And, how our actions and choices either build into those things that are most important or take away from them?

    I find myself looking at my list of things that I would call very important to me and wonder if the way I choose to spend my time and energy really builds into those things.

    I realize that there are things we have to do in life (I.e. work to help financially support your family) but I also realize that we may need to consistently reevaluate if the choices we are making that require us to work so many hours, are worth the sacrifices to the list of our so-called priorities.

    This is a choice & reflection each of us have to make. And, at different points in our life, the driving factors may affect not only our choices differently but our priorities too.

    I am so proud that you have always been willing to evaluate and examine your life and where that is right now, whatever & whenever that right now is.

    1. Lisa, I’m deeply touched by your thoughts. You’re right, life is a constant re-evaluation and recommitting or resetting of the things that matter. Some change with time, others persist. But looking at them with conscious thought, examining our choices and taking responsibility for them, makes the difference in how we fulfill this life of ours. You make me so proud.

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