This past summer I had an idea to drive south by myself to sit, explore and 'find' whatever it was that I felt compelled to 'find' within myself. I loaded up my clothes, my easel and paints and canvas'. I had no plan except to be in Newport Beach, Ca at the Perring's beach house to house sit while they were in Africa. It was the first time in my life where I didn't really have to be anywhere at any time or manage anyone but myself.
I had no hotel reservations. I decided to manage as I went. On the trip down I decided I wouldn't fill my space with too much noise. I kept music very limited. On occassion i would turn on Lauren Daigle. I said no to audio books. I wanted to sit with myself and experience what it was like to not have to 'do' anything. To create space for my mind and heart to connect and really feel.
I had a mini recorder with me that I chose to use to capture my very random thoughts. It was like moving all my internal thoughts into a external tank. My purpose was intended to use these thoughts for more writing and creative impetus upon my return to Seattle.
This was awkward at first. I learned to just turn the recorder on and express my thoughts vocally. As if I was the passenger in the car listening to myself. No filters, no apologies, no constraints.
As I made my way down the coast, I captured photos and sketches of the magnificent ocean. I have always loved the ocean. It is the one place in the entire world where I can sit on the sand, feel the warmth and density of a holding beneath my skin. I listen to the waves and fall short always of finding words to describe the experience. Instead I wanted to paint what I felt and saw.
I traveled through a town I had lived through some very formidable years. My aunts and many people who were a part of my youth still reside in this very small community. As I drove the familiar stretch of highway 101, I was struck with how small things were. The distance from what used to be the Preston bridge from our small shack which sat very close near the bridge and railroad tracks all the way into town didn't seem as long a road as I had thought it had been.
Everything in that town seemed smaller than I remembered. I went to the city park where me and my younger sisters spent a lot of time either playing softball or watching. I walked around the field where I had caught balls, missed, struck out, hit homeruns and was called 'razzle dazzle' by our umpire. We called him Blindman. He didn't seem to mind. I stood at the place where I had many times before and realized that there are places that hold us when the internal world can't.
As I continued to travel south from Washington, Oregon to southern California I was collecting a lot of thoughts and feelings. As I approached the grapevine along highway 5 I saw a long line of car taillights. I saw smoke descend on the pass and fiery embers. The grapevine is the center of all California highways. And, on that particular summer night it was on fire quite literally. I slowly made my way over the pass with fires on either side of the road. I thought the parallel to my life seemed so uncanny.
When I finally settled in Newport Beach, I set up my space to paint. The front bay windows yielded the right amount of light. I committed to a routine. Walk the beach first thing after waking up, a healthy breakfast and coffee, and then paint for 5 hours. I would break for lunch and go back painting until about 3pm. I'd put my suit on and head to the beach to sit, swim and listen to the waves. Then I 'd start preparing dinner eat on the front patio, clean up then get in my jammies and write for an hour or two. I discovered I have to really work and just letting myself 'be'. I learned that when I invest in my creativity my energy increases. And, sometimes that energy is used to feel the incredible waves come over me emotionally. I sat in my aloneness. And after awhile realized, I needed to reach out to others.
It was an amazing learning experience for me. I felt giddy not having a 'must have' schedule. It was quite liberating. And the pieces I painted and the words I wrote along the way feel restorative.