I don’t remember much from senior year high school English. My teacher spent half our class periods reading aloud from some Joel Osteen book about living your most prosperous life (Christian school) and the other half drilling us with SAT-style analogies, which did nothing to prepare me for being an English major at NYU. I spent my free class periods curled up in a sunny window with Sylvia Plath’s unabridged journals or some poetry anthology or another. I was moodier then than I am now.
It was in that English class, though, that I first encountered Robert Frost’s Two Tramps in Mud Time. I think of these lines, and those moments, all the time.
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
I love what I do. Something like luck has played a part in that, but I have also made it a point all my life to find what I love and make it my work. When you’re passionate about your work, it’s easy to throw yourself into the striving and just get lost in it. Twelve- or fourteen-hour days fly by. Maybe you know what I mean.
If there’s a downside to this, it’s that it can be difficult to pull the camera back and get a wider angle on life. I am the first to admit that sometimes I lose sight of the important things (and people) that exist outside of work.
This is all to say, I had visitors last weekend, and it was pretty much perfect. Daniel was here, along with my mom and her manfriend. I spent some much-needed days with my family, just being and reveling in beautiful weather and good food and all the wonderful things about Arizona.
On Sunday, Daniel and I hiked Camelback—the same hike I did back in December with friends.
This hike is no joke. I was using feet, hands, knees, elbows, and sometimes my butt to scrabble up and down the rocks. And yet, without fail, every half hour or so some 70-year-old ultramarathoner would sprint past me like it was no big deal. There was actually a guy running up the mountain with a toddler on his shoulders. Seriously?
The story of my life right now is that the pictures don’t do it justice.
On Monday, Daniel and I set off for a quick road trip to Flagstaff. The changing scenery as you drive north is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
We started off in the desert.
Then we hit the most stunning red rock.
We stopped in Sedona to stand on the vortices and feel the spiritual energy.
I didn’t feel anything. (I also didn’t give any money to the magic crystal mongers, so I guess you get what you pay for.)
And, less than two hours away from sunny Phoenix, we found ourselves in the snowy mountains at dusk.
With an elevation spike of about 7,000 feet and a temperature drop of around 50 degrees, Flagstaff was a whole other world for a night. We stayed in the most lovely B&B called the Inn at 410, where we sat by the fire sipping apple cider with bourbon.
And we might have ventured out in the cold for more mini beers. And pizza.
In the morning, we wandered around Flagstaff’s historic district and ducked into a sunny little coffee shop to split a French press.
I did my best all weekend to stay present. Thankfully, Daniel realizes what effort it takes me to keep my mind off work—after all, he’s ridiculously ambitious himself. And he’s good at pulling me out of my thoughts and back into the moment. This whole trip was a fantastically executed exercise in finding the bigger picture.
Now I am back in Phoenix and thinking of the next things—running goals (still healing the IT band), trips (LA? The Grand Canyon?), and meals (scallops and acorn squash). And I’m back to work, telling myself every day how lucky I am to love it so much.