I have this irrational argument in my head on a regular basis of whether I prefer the ocean or the mountains as my soul place. I force myself to choose.
Definitely the mountains with their all-encompassing pine trees and majestic views, I think.
Yeah, but the ocean with it’s limitless expanse, compassion and fresh salty air, I’ll think back.
On Sunday, we went rogue and chose the desert instead. I had been desperately craving a nature adventure; a hike that required actual hiking boots rather than my Nike Frees.
Me, Ryan, Maisley and Coura drove out to Anza Borrego State Park, taking a road we’ve never driven, to a hiking trail we’ve never stepped foot on. We strapped Coura securely onto me or Ryan, and Maisley hiked a good half of the trail with my hand in hers before finishing the rest on Ryan’s shoulders. We played in the stream, threw rocks, looked for mountain goats and took several snack breaks. We only got a few weird looks climbing small boulders with a baby on our back, and much to Ryan’s surprise, saw almost no one on shrooms.
Maisley thought the desert was a destination we would find at the end of our hike. “Are we at the desert yet?”, she asked a few times every few steps on our three mile (two hour) hike to the oasis.
When we had finished our day, and the last PB and J had been devoured, Ryan asked me if I had any good conversations with my dad on the trail.
I had, of course. I feel my dad so strongly right now. His voice turned up to full volume in my dreams. His presence in the beauty of the fluorescent purple and green hummingbird on our hike.
Still, I so wanted to call and tell him about our adventure. I wanted to then hear him talk about “That time we brought a generator to the desert and built a makeshift dance floor” or “That other time Chris and I were backpacking in Mammoth…”. My dad loved a good adventure. He grew up with dirt under his bare feet and always had a story from the great outdoors.
Deep down, I know that he knows. In fact, he was the first to know about our day. Somehow it makes me feel happy, like he’s gloating to my mom from Heaven that HE is now the first to know everything.
I found peace and a surprising amount of quiet in the desert.
And as I had hoped for, somewhere amongst the freshly blooming Ocotillo trees, I found a little bit of me. A part of me out there in the wild desert that came back home. A little added piece to the puzzling notion of wholeness.
The beauty in nature is that we don’t have to choose which place to love best. We can love all of it and find ourselves in all of it, all the same.