Sunday, August 19, 2012

The continuing journey

A journey can begin in many ways.
It can be the act of traveling from one place to another, like this flight I took from L.A. to Phoenix. Or it can be a passage from one stage of experience to another, which was what drew me to Arizona in the middle of summer.

After days of sitting by my father's hospital bed, of being caught in a slipstream of my own making, I needed to take a drive.
I found a road that stretched for mile after mile through sparse brush and cactus. It was a relief to have a road almost to myself, no lanes packed with commuters and semis, no sense of jostle and push, just endless desert and sky.

And the occasional timeless mesa.
Out here I could let my thoughts go where they would. I had a lot to remember, a lifetime of love and regret to ponder, as my father faced the last journey he would ever take, one in which he had to travel alone with no luggage, no map to guide him.
I drove my rental car up, up, up a steep mountain road, needing to keep going, not knowing where. I came upon this.
When I stumble on nature in all its terrifying, stupendous glory, I'm reminded that we are the short-term visitors on this planet. Each of our lives, which seem so intensely important as we live them, is but a blink in the universe.

My father's death came right before this year's WriteOnCon. I thought I would sit this one out. For those who don't know, the event is a free online conference for writers of children's lit. Tons of editors, agents and authors come together to talk  writing, revising, publishing.

I stuck my nose in, just to check it out. Next thing I knew, I'd decided to put a small sample of a WIP on the forum boards. Soon I was devouring the live chats, posts and critiques.

This year, the event helped me step back into life, but not just because it's inspiring and informative, which it is, but because of the people. There is so much good will, so many helping hands. And that's what life should be about.
None of us knows when our journey's exit will be here, but there's a lot we can do to make the ride itself worth the price of the ticket.


Tyrean Martinson said...

I love the beauty of this post. I felt like I was there, on that car ride, by the hospital bed, in the slipstream, and then getting back into writing.
Blessings on the journey ahead!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi Tyrean. I feel honored that you felt that. Thank you. It's been hard to decide whether to write about this at all, but it is real and that means something, I think.

Jaye Robin Brown said...

I'm glad you were able to find solace in such a time of grief. Creativity is a powerful healer. I trust your father was holding your hand from wherever he now is. Peace and love to you.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Your pictures are stunning, as usual. I'm so glad you were able to find comfort out in nature--I often find that's where I need to go when life gets hard. I hope things slowly get easier for you. One day at a time, right?

Ara Burklund said...

So sorry to hear about your dad!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Jaye: Thank you, and you're right about creativity. Art is good for the soul.

Stephanie: Nature is the best healer. For me, anyway. Yeah, I just keep trying to move forward. Sorry I'm so tardy with the WIP. Don't give up on me, pls.

Ara: Hi and thank you so much!

Wen Baragrey said...

Beautiful words and beautiful images from a beautiful soul.

Jemi Fraser said...

Lovely pics. Nature has so much to teach us - we really have to be ready to learn and absorb. I'm so glad WriteOnCon helped you. It's such a wonderful event! We left for a couple of days away in the middle of it so I missed the live 2nd day - but I've been going back to see what I missed :)

Julie Dao said...

I love this post. Glad that you got to spend some time in the peace and beauty of nature.

Bish Denham said...

Oh Tricia... you speak so eloquently of the real truth about life. It's so short, so it really is about how we live it/what we put into that counts. And the photos are beautiful.

These passings in your life are also new beginnings. As one of my uncles used to say at the end of every phone call, "Have fun!"

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Aw, thank you, Wen.

Jemi: There are things that get us through bad times. Nature and art help me.

And thank you, Julie, to you, too.

Bish: You're right. Life is a circle, always renewing. I need to grab on to some fun. Thank you.

Laraine Herring said...

Thank you for posting this, and all the journey(s) you've been on around your dad.

Having lived 25 years in Phoenix, I could see exactly where you were!

Be well, my friend.

storyqueen said...

There is something so magical about that road across the sky that you caught with your camera. And your words about nature...and the fact that none of us know when our time on this lovely planet is up...brought a tear to my eye.

Thinking of you. Keep writing.



Lydia Kang said...

Sorry to hear about your dad and the hospital. But your photos and thoughts are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing them with us.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Laraine: I loved driving that highway. It felt like an old-timey road trip, and I wanted to keep going and going. Thank you for leaving this lovely comment.

Shelley: I hadn't even noticed the road in the sky, but, yes, it is there. I had to pull over to take that photo. It was so stunning.
Thank you, for being one of those writer friends, who helps me keep on keeping on.

Lydia: Thank you so much, my dear.

Donna said...

What a beautiful essay. May we all be as open to the full experience of life.

Golden Eagle said...

I'm sorry to hear about your father. Beautiful-written post--it was wonderful to read your thoughts about life.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hi, Donna, my friend. May we, indeed.

Eagle: Thank you so much. :)

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

What a beautiful post, Tricia. I am so sorry for your loss but how lovely that you see the good will and helping hands around you. I so agree that this is what life should be about. To embrace this is to make the most of the time we have here.

Faith Pray said...

Wow, Tricia. This is a stunning post - words and photos, both. What a rough year you have had. Sending hugs. and prayers for hope and depth and new shoots rising out of the hard things.

Talli Roland said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, Tricia. Sending your hugs and positive vibes.

What a beautiful post.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Cynthia: It's one reason I still like to blog, because of the many people I've met who do reach out to help each other. thank you.

Faith: Oh, thank you so much. I did let my heart pour into the words. I could use some new things sprouting, new horizons opening.

Talli: I so appreciate that, my dear. Hugs back to you.

Come At Me Bro said...

This is great!

Megan Frances Abrahams said...

You expressed this sad life event with elegance.