I know I haven’t been great at keeping things up-to-date around here, but the thing is, I’ve been busy living my life and really, really enjoying it for the first time in a long, long time. I’m happy when I wake up in the morning. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in months. I smile a lot, I dance a lot, I have the kind of energy that only comes from knowing you’re where you’re supposed to be and doing the things you’re supposed to be doing and meeting the people you’re supposed to be meeting.
I’ve stopped living my life for what happens next, always focused on the future or a plan, and started focusing more on what’s happening right now. I’ve been focusing on being present for the past few months and I’ve found that I really fucking like where I am in this moment, and when I’m somewhere different a few moments from now, I’m probably going to really fucking like that, too. And sometimes I like where I am so much that I want to stay, perhaps a little too long, soaking it up and just being there for just a little bit longer.
Today was one of those times.
Over the past several weeks, Doni and I have started a Sunday Funday tradition that we intend to carry through the summer and beyond. Obviously this isn’t a thing that we invented, but it’s a thing that we’re making our own, and so far we’re really loving it. The goal is to gather friends, whether it’s one or two or five, and go do something. Anything. Get out of the house, be social, have an adventure. We’ve spent two Sunday Fundays on the beach at Sauvie Island, soaking up the sun and drinking cheap beer and listening to music and just talking. One of those Sundays we also stopped to pick strawberries on our way back to the city. One Sunday Funday was spent on a sort of impromptu bar crawl, because the weather was crappy so there wasn’t anything to do outside. And today, our Sunday Funday was a hike to Angel’s Rest.
I’ve done this hike before, back in March. It’s about 2.5 miles with roughly 1,500 feet in elevation gained over a steady upward climb to the top, where you climb on top of rocks to get an absolutely breathtaking view of the Columbia River Gorge. It’s not terribly hard, but it’s work, and it’s totally worth it.
When we got to the top, we unpacked our Sunday Funday blanket, juice box wine, bag of jerky and string cheese, and settled in to stay for a while. We sat and stared. We climbed to different rocks for a slightly different view. And finally I found one rock that jutted out a little further than the rest, and it was the perfect size for me to perch on and sit and stare at the impossible beauty around me, and to do what I like to call “having church.”
We watched as the sun went in and out of the cloud cover, appreciating the way the light changed on the mountains and the river. As the sun started to sink lower and we approached the “magic hour” (you know the one, where everything is cast in golden light and looks like it’s made of fairy tales?), I couldn’t stop shouting about how incredible this was, how I never wanted to leave and what a great decision this Sunday Funday was. Maybe the wine helped to facilitate this, but I was definitely also nature-drunk.
At 7:47, I asked if we could wait until 7:50 to pack it up and start the 45 minute hike back down to the car. When 7:50 came, I asked for five more minutes. Then five more. I was the kid negotiating with the parents about when to leave the playground. I couldn’t tear myself away, because I was just so happy sitting on that rock with my legs hanging out over the Gorge, watching the light change and listening to the birds chirping and appreciating how quiet it was getting as everyone else started leaving the lookout. When we finally packed up and started to head back toward the trail, I kept climbing on the rocks. Every time my friends turned around, I was off on another rock, still looking at the different views that each point offered. I couldn’t get enough; I wanted to stay.
But then the hike down started, and that was incredible, too. I loved the way the light came through the trees, and the smell of the wet dirt, and the sound of the creek running through the woods. I loved the wildflowers along the trail and started to appreciate this next part of the adventure almost as much as I appreciated sitting at the top.
But when I was sitting at the top, I wasn’t thinking about what came next. I wasn’t thinking about the hike back down, or my Monday, or the rest of the summer or whatever else I have going on. I was thinking about that exact moment. I was there. I’ve spent a lot of time, especially in the last year, wishing I was somewhere else, so it feels really, really incredibly wonderful to love where I am, and to love it not just in general, but in very specific moments, and to want to stay in those moments for as long as possible. And it doesn’t hurt knowing that there are more incredible moments coming next, too.