Life, wherever we are, sucks sometimes.
We could be in the most beautiful places in the world, pursuing what we love, with the dog of our dreams, and life can still be frustrating as hell. We end up feeling like the world is against us, and as loneliness settles in, we just want to curl up into a ball and not talk to anyone for awhile. Yes, I’m talking about myself, but we all know the feeling. No matter where you are in the world, or what you are doing, there is stress that arises with the wind and moments where you want to crumble into the earth beneath you. This is where we need to recognize our desire to simply get away and be alone, whether that be just outside your door, an hour drive to the mountains, or a spontaneous trip across the globe.
Part of my frustration has been finding places to sleep in my car while still being able to visit cities like Santa Barbara and bring you great pictures of Denali being a lesbian with a bunch of cute California girls in a shopping mall. In order to formulate these gripping pieces of photojournalism, I have to spend the day exploring the city and then pass out in front of someone’s million dollar beach house, hope their spouse doesn’t think they are cheating on them, wake up at the ass-crack of dawn, and awkwardly leave while forty-something housewives walk their Yorkies down the street, sniffing the air to see if I smell like a homeless man (which I do). Or, I can ask around to find locals that will direct me up into the hills with the other vagabonds where I can sleep in peace. So when I traveled to Santa Barbara last week, I went to a local brewery just to see if I could round up some dirtbags and ask them where a ruffian like myself could slumber for the night.
Choosing to remove yourself can offer wonderful surprises.
This is where the getting away part comes into play. I could have probably found some random neighborhood to sleep in, but being in the hot city all day, surrounded by noisy tourists (like myself) can be hectic with a Husky that has enough fur to insulate a pretty large home with just a couple of brushings. Noticing that she was hot, tired, and exhausted, I followed some advice from a local gentleman who told me to drive straight up Gibraltar Road and into the mountains and simply pull off to the side of the road. So, being the spontaneous, adventure-seeking man that I am, and wanting to get away from everyone and everything, I did.
In the morning, after a quiet, starlight night under the coastal sky, I expected to wake up and see a pretty nice view of the ocean, the city, and probably main street where I had just spent the previous day. Instead, I saw nothing but a sprawling, fluffy sea of pink, white and gold clouds in all directions, and, rising with the sun, I was blessed enough to see the sunrise in this moment of surreal calm. It was one of the more inspiring moments of my trip thus far, and it completely decompressed and invigorated me for the day ahead. If I had stayed down in the city in my frustration, I would have awoken to an overcast sky and more bustling people. By getting away, I was able to sit with myself, meditate on why I was feeling frustrated, let it float away with the clouds, and leave Santa Barbara on a positive note.
Although escape is good, the true answer is to face whatever it is causing the pain.
This is my point. If we are feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, stressed, or any other word for “shitty,” it can benefit us and even surprise us what can happen when we choose to step away from whatever it is, even if just for a moment. If the feeling arises in the workplace, step outside and find inspiration in the world outside. If you are stressed from troubles at home, take a walk through your neighborhood. If you are in the middle of a city, sweating and hot, escape to the cool mountain air. Dig into yourself to find the root of the problem – where the anxiety is coming from – and make a conscious decision to let it go and have a positive attitude. Then return to whatever it is that caused the frustration, and face it with a clear perspective.
These moments of frustration are here to test us, and if we live in faith that they are here to help, we can conquer these moments and win little victories each day. Try it – you might even get to enjoy a sea of clouds in the meantime. Little miracles happen when we consciously choose to see them.