the great adventure: day 8
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…” ~Henry David Thoreau in Walden
a good nights sleep under a full sky drifted away slowly like a canoe on a lazy river as morning broke crisp and clear. i lay there wondering how different the valley would look from the floor as opposed to our previous evenings perch on glacier point.
originally we planned on spending the whole day hiking the valley and checking out the various waterfalls, but our timetable didnt work out quite as we hoped. when we awoke we decided to leave our reserved camping spot outside the park in order to try and find a better spot near the valley where we wanted to spend our day.
the road into and through the park is a winding maze to traverse and it took time. as we neared the valley we had mapped out a couple of possible campsites and headed to the nearest one. tamarack flat was a couple miles off the main road down and bumpy dirt path in a nest of trees next to a stream and meadow that was just pristine. unfortunately we drove around almost an hour before realizing it was full.
more time wasted.
we headed further northeast and pulled into white wolf, a larger campground right off the park road. this one seemed full too but after a brief discussion with the camp hosts it appeared there were a couple of openings, so we spent another hour driving, finding and setting up camp. it was further from the valley than we hoped and we had blown almost half the day finding it.
by the time we downed lunch and made it back to the valley it was mid-afternoon. i was extremely frustrated at having wasted so much time. but it occurred to me that this was a recurring theme in my life. i am constantly finding reasons to be discontent where i am and always wanting to look somewhere else for something better.
most recently i had made such a decision that uprooted my family for the second time in 2 years and moved us away from alpine, texas in hopes of something better in the dallas/fort worth area where we had been previously. it only took me a few months to seriously regret that decision, and yet here i was on the great adventure making the same kind of mistake.
which is pretty much how my whole life has unfolded. beauty all around me and i miss a lot of it because im unhappy where i am. i guess being discontent leads to even greater discontentment.
im not entirely sure what it is that churns inside me in such a way but i know it has cost me peace in multiple situations over the course of my life. i secretly like to think of myself as possessing patience and wisdom but time and again i prove that to be a delusion. if we had stayed at our campsite in the sierra national forest we would have been able to enjoy the absolutely mesmerizing beauty of yosemite national park for many more hours than we did. we would have had plenty of time to see nevada falls and vernal falls. we could have hiked to the base of half dome.
instead we drove around in a car.
trying not to kill bears.
as far as sucking the marrow of life i was failing miserably and as i reflected on this i was reminded of ecclesiastes 2:11
Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
my inability to be at peace in one of the most gorgeous locations in the world was a giant flashing red indicator of just how broken i am. i have spent immeasurable amounts of time and energy chasing after the wind. and once again god spoke to me. not in the same way as on the beach near santa barbara, but still clearly enough that i understood.
(and know that i am god)
of course i didnt stop to think about it at the time. i pushed right past it while trying to get in all the sights. because being still isnt something im very good at even if i like to think i am. even if god speaks to me and tries to get my attention while im on a journey to find and hear from him.
our first stop in the valley was to hike bridal veil falls which is like walking into the past. there were people around but the forest on either side of the trail seemed primitive. giant hunks of stone jutted out of mossy earth and stones the size of small cars huddled together near the stream at the base of the falls that feeds into the merced river. bridal veil earned its name as the wind whipped the water from the precipice into a cascade that flashed across the rock and gave birth to a mist that hovered around the base creating its own little weather system.
after taking a slew of pictures i stood there for a moment and was still as the mist freckled my face and shoulders. but it was only a moment as we were still in a rush to move on, trying to see as much as we could squeeze in before darkness came, which is certainly not the best way to experience a place like yosemite.
after bridal veil we drove over to the main lodge area and checked out the ansel adams store and the visitors center. i found out more about how glaciers carved this valley and how long it took them to do so, reinforcing my desire to be able to slow down and take it all in. but with daylight waning we hurried out and headed toward yosemite falls which was already shadowed as the late afternoon sun drifted slowly toward the elevated horizon of the enclosed valley.
we took a few pics and decided to head out into the meadow at the base of el capitan.
the sun was bright as we looked east toward half dome..
and yet was already beginning to set as we looked west toward turtle back dome..
in the fading light we paused in the meadow beneath el capitan..
and there as the light continued to relent i put my camera down and rested against a felled tree. slowly looking around, listening to the mixture of sounds ebbing with the wind i heard it again
(and know that i am god)
and i was still. and i knew god was. and i felt peace. the shalom that has come so rarely for me in this world always comes when i cease striving. so i ceased. i lost track of time and it seemed to have lost track of me. the wind murmured. the clouds passed. the stream giggled. the birds sang. and i was in the presence..
as dusk won the day we headed back to camp. i set about gathering firewood while jase and bryan tended to supper. there at the end of the day i felt refreshed and gathering wood seemed like a chore i would welcome every day if i could always do it in such a place. we lit a fire and devoured our food, toasting gods majesty and our enduring friendship at the close of yet another extraordinary day.
our experiences on day 8 marked a turn in my approach to the remainder of the trip. i knew there would still be days when we didnt have as much time as we wanted but i resolved to slow down as much as possible and enjoy these moments to the fullest. no more missing out on the wonder around me due to my discontent. i was going to carpe every diem from here on out.
i wanted to live deliberately…and not, when i came to die, discover that i had not lived.