Dragonflies of fantastic proportion wheel and hover like miniature helicopters in the sky, above the clumps of Siberian Aster in pre-formed bouquets lining the highway. A lone heron rises from the flats and flies away – sweeping grace in motion.
I stop to look at some wildflowers and notice a butterfly that I’ve never seen before. Then I notice that there are hundreds of them. They are everywhere!
All right, so maybe flying insects were not the reason I headed into the mountains today, but it doesn’t matter. I’m here, and the dragonflies and the butterflies, and there is nothing else. I am lost in the moment.
It took me a while to figure it out. The business of life in the 21st century with its responsibilities and encumbrances had led to a loss of connectivity. I’d lost my connection to the earth, the sky – to myself. I’d forgotten how to be alone.
My first few ventures out in the world alone were tentative at best – laughable at worst. I’d run back to the safety net that was my cell phone and I’d call someone. I was ashamed of my cowardice.
One day the inevitable happened – that little blinking light and the words “no service”. There was a momentary bout with panic and then I became distracted by pine needles, pale green lichen and Mountain Meadow Cinquefoil. It was an epiphany. I began to see the world through the lens of my camera, and the focus in my life changed.
I realized that, not only did I enjoy my own company, in some cases I enjoyed my own company more than the company I had been keeping. I began to filter those relationships out of my life wherever possible. I began to make a concentrated effort to spend some time alone. I rediscovered simple joy.
There is joy in the smell of a mountain stream, joy in the feel of a mountain breeze. There is joy in the silence, and joy in the solitude.
It doesn’t matter what “reason” I had for coming to the mountains today.
That feeling that comes over me – that quiet calm that settles like a shawl around my shoulders and makes me whole – that is the reason I come to the mountains, whatever else I may find.