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 building in Bodie, Okanogan Country. Photo © Jane Alynn.