Yesterday was an extremely hard day. My moods can dip and dive until I’m crawling on my belly in the spring mud; right there next to the skunk cabbage. But I pushed myself to get out the door, my ass dragging ten feet behind me, and do some much needed grocery shopping. As I drove down the boulevard in my silver pine mica minivan (yes, that’s the official name of the color), feeling like crap on a log, shit on a shingle, this thought came to me…
What do you see?
What do you see when you look at me behind the wheel of my car?
When you look at me you see a middle aged, overweight woman in her mom uniform: jeans, a t-shirt and a thin fleece, with her uncolored hair pulled back in a big barrette, wearing simple stud earrings and glasses. You see this average, generic woman driving a minivan, so you assume I have kids and they play sports and do other activities. You see me driving, on a mission to do all sorts of errands and then get back to home base where I have cooking, cleaning, and other household chores waiting.
What do you see?
You see whatever your lenses of experience and perception allow you to see. You see what you expect to see. You see me through your filters.
But what you don’t see is a woman who is struggling to just exist. You don’t see a woman who fantasizes about what it would be like to no longer have to deal with any of the hard things in life that day. It could be so easy to just step out and be done with it all.
You don’t see my past. You don’t see my feelings. You don’t see my struggles. You don’t see my heart.
You don’t see that even though I drive a minivan, I have only one child; and that this one child is going through a very rough patch right now. You don’t see my heart breaking for him. You don’t see that some days right now I can barely function, and I hate that my ability to be ok is so inextricably tied to my son, like a noose around my neck.
And you also don’t see that as I’m driving home and notice the dry weather, the patchy clouds in the sky, allowing the sun to peek through now and then, I realize that if I get home and produce something for the family to eat for dinner, there will be time for me to run back out the door with my camera for some photography therapy.
You don’t see that yes, I’m struggling mightily, but I also know that there are some things in my life that help bring me back to level, to contentment. And one of them is photographing nature.
Right now, just a half hour drive away, are over a million tulip bulbs that have been hand planted into an amazing display garden for people to view. There are also fields with rows of colors, with the Cascade Mountains as a backdrop. Hundreds of thousands of visitors will stream into our little valley this month to view the splendor, and I know from experience when the crowds are thick and when they are thin.
And they are thin on a weekday evening from five o’clock on (the garden closes at 7 pm). A time when you see me and assume that I’ll be picking up the kids from some sort of practice, putting dinner on the table, and supervising homework. But you don’t see that my one kid doesn’t do organized activities. And you don’t see that I had to pull him out of school because of his extreme anxiety. And you don’t see that right now, his sleep is completely upside down and that as I get home, he’s only just waking up.
You also don’t see that I have a wonderfully supportive husband who has no qualms about my running off for a few hours of photography therapy, as long as there is something he can scrounge up to eat in the fridge.
I spent 2 1/2 hours walking around nature’s splendor with my camera, letting my heart open back up as I took in the amazing beauty, snapping away (350 times! Plus a few more on my phone).
The variety of colors, from solid to variegated, of petal shapes and configurations, and heights of different varieties of tulips, and other spring bulbs, is staggering. A few tulips were on their way out, with petals falling, and a few others were still in bud. But the majority were beautifully open, smiling, waving, beckoning for me to take their picture.
Gazing upon the perfection that is Mother Nature, my heart automatically opens like the flowers, and reaches out touching divinity. Having both feet planted in the dirt and my heart open to the sky is when all is right in my world.
We never know what another person is dealing with in any moment, so if you ever have the choice between reacting towards someone or holding them in a place of compassion, try like crazy to take the road of compassion, especially when it’s the harder choice.