New View

Writing my blog at the end of my day, which seems to be getting later and later, leads to pondering the meaning of life.  I’m becoming increasingly suspicious that the meaning of life cannot be pondered–if I’m thinking about it, I’m probably missing it.

Having been obsessed with Powerpoint for the past couple of weeks, spending virtually every waking moment either on conference calls looking at/talking to Powerpoint presentations or creating/revising one giant Powerpoint file that likes to crash whenever I modify the data contained in the charts, I found I’ve gradually lost sight of everything else.  It’s as if my vision has shortened to the distance between my eyes and my computer screen.

Even when I took a break to walk Tisen (poor guy had to wait for my husband to come home for lunch to get a mid-day break) at what was supposed to be dinner time (Dinner!  I knew I forgot something!), I was so inside my head thinking about what I was working on that I could only remember about half of the walk when I returned and I wasn’t sure which route we had taken through the park.

Now, having temporarily pulled myself away from the need to endlessly revise my slides, I find myself wondering why I am so obsessed with finishing something that can never be done.  It contains information that will change, data that will grow, and theories that will be disproven.  It is as transitory as I am, but with a shorter life expectancy.

I will finish using it for what I need it for.  I will change it if I need it again in the future.  I will share it and get feedback and make more changes.  Some day, it will be set aside never to be opened again.  Yet, right now, it has become the center of my life.

I decided I needed some perspective.  Having shortened my view for so many hours over so many days now, the endless view from an overlook seemed like just what I needed.  Unfortunately, it’s too late to take a drive to an overlook and I’m too tired to contemplate going out for a view.  Instead, I dive into my photos and find the views I’m looking for.

It’s a funny thing how looking at a photo of a big view can make you feel like you’re really looking out a window instead of at yet another computer screen the same distance from your eyes as the one you were tired of staring at all day.

Leave No Trace

The realization that from at least the time we’re in the 3rd grade we have an instinctive need to be noticed and recognized and that need only seems to grow as we become adults has me thinking.

Is that what everything we do is really all about?  From whining about loud music at 6:15AM to flying solo in a hang glider off a mountain launch to taking pictures and posting them on the web.  Is it really all about the same thing?

How do we make a mark.  How do we matter.  How does the life we live add up to something that was worthwhile.

Far away, in a beautiful place called Montana, a young woman I think of as a “surrogate” daughter (as in, she’s someone else’s child, but I would like to claim her and her twin sister for my own) is in the middle of creating a new life–literally.  Just over half way through her first pregnancy, she is glowing so much it’s evident even in mobile phone photos and posts on FB.

Watching her grow with this new life inside her via the internet gives whole new meaning to virtual reality.  I am reminded of our visit there about this time of year a couple of years ago.  I pull out the old photos and pick out a few with fall colors that fit my mood.

Having retouched the photos a bit to make them look a little more like I remember the place, I find myself wondering if this will be my contribution to the world.  Pictures that make people smile politely and say, “that’s nice.”  Is this the best I can do when it comes to making my own mark?

I have dreamt of riding my bike (alternately motorized and not, depending on which year I was dreaming in) across the US, of through-hiking the whole of the Appalachian Trail, of writing daring and evocative fiction, of starting a community garden and teaching inner city children how to grow their own food.  I have dreamt of things I have no skills to do and of solving problems I know virtually nothing about.  But when it comes to leaving my mark, instead of raising my hand, I seem to lift my feet.  I want to move, to see, to do.  And the only evidence I leave behind is my footprints.

Do the mountains and trees know I’ve been there appreciating them?  Does the sun set with a little extra punch?

In the end, we are all nomads–we’re all just visiting.  Maybe it’s ok if, like good houseguests, once the laundry has been washed, it’s as if we were never there.