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  • TBT. Hiking in Banff National Park, 1981.

    For a long time I displayed this photo of me in front of Lake Louise in my office as my power pic. I did indeed feel powerful in that moment.

    Yet, even so, as I look at it today, I remember how unsettled I felt inside myself at the time. Yes, I needed the sustenance of the power the photo portrayed to keep me going.

    I was still smoking then and though I had attempted to quit many times, so far I had been unsuccessful. Being able to quit felt so futile that I had an image of myself smoking on my deathbed.

    I was also experiencing other forms of suffering. Among them were family trauma, loneliness, and a lack of clarity about my life's direction.

    The hiking trip was a spontaneous act. At the last moment a friend and I discovered that we both had an open week in early September. We decided to drive to Banff National Park in my little 1976 Chevette. On our minimal budgets we would camp and cook our meals over an open fire.

    We reckoned that if we drove 36 hours straight through to get there and then 36 hours straight through to get home again, we would have the rest of the time for hiking and everything else.

    That meant 96 hours for everything else. Everything else included setting up camp, cooking our meals, catching up on sleep, laying in the tent reading while it rained, taking down camp, driving to another park, setting up camp again, cooking, sleeping, and then taking down camp again. Oh yeah, and hiking.

    The trip turned out to be absolutely wonderful. Beyond any expectation I had envisioned.

    The place itself, the heights and the valleys, was visually stunning. Such grandeur!

    The smells of fresh, cool, moist air as well as the forest fauna and the fir trees were rejuvenating.

    And then there was the silence! I could hear my footfalls. One after another as we climbed and descended the mountain. And I could hear my (sometimes belabored) breath.

    I felt, literally, the power of touching glacial waters, soft green moss, and ancient rocks,

    The tinkling sound of bells of on our backpacks was so foreign to us and, seemingly, to our surroundings. Yet, we wondered together about whether the sound of the bells was foreign or familiar to the bears who lived there year round.

    It was a time of being in the now. And the totally surprising gift was in the revelation of just what inner peace might look like and feel like.

    In the months following this hiking trip, I quit smoking. And I embarked on a healing journey to address other anxieties in my life.

    So, these days, this image has come to represent a spontaneous, short-lived, and beautiful memory that offered an unexpected opportunity to choose a deliberate, life-altering, and long-lived healing healing agenda for my life.


    [Scans of 35mm slides by Barbara (and my friend on my camera), Banff National Park, Alberta, and Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada, 1981.]
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