Once upon a time, I had a somewhat successful blog. It was something I poured myself into. Along with other creative pursuits, I loved to write. Unfortunately, I also loved/hated politics. I’ll let you figure out what sort of blog it was and just leave it at that.
There’s something about growing older that focuses you; makes you ‘hone in’ to what you truly value. You seem to care less and less of what others think of you, and you start to care more about what you think of you. Things that were once so blasted important now seem less than insignificant. In fact, their only significance is that you understand just how much time you wasted on them. Worrying, working, beating yourself up for–let’s be honest–some really stupid shit.
And let me tell you, I wasted a good deal of time on some really stupid shit. It tore me away from my family, made me impatient with the people I loved the most, and drove away people who would otherwise become very dear friends of mine had I not been so focused on stuff that didn’t really matter. I was robbing myself of true joy, sacrificing that joy for what I thought was my ‘American Duty’.
Enter a tiny cabin in the woods on an island on Lake Superior. That cabin had no internet, no cell service, no land line. I was forced to sit for hours in the morning before my late-to-rise husband and kids would wake up, drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette, and just staring into the woods, contemplating any and all things (except politics).
I would go for walks along the sharp, red cliffs with my camera and just sit and breathe in the beauty while I simultaneously breathing in the arguably cleanest air in the world. My husband, kids, dogs and I would anxiously wait for a black bear to walk into the yard of the cabin and if we were lucky, she would have some cubs with her and we could watch them play and scurry up the trees. We would go swimming in the freezing, clear water and pick out soft round Lake Superior stones of dark blue, light blue, orange, peach, and white.
It’s where I saw and photographed my first owl, first fox, and first black bear. It’s what inspired me to learn night photography, and how to photograph the moon. It’s where my favorite portraits of the children and husband have been taken. It’s where my husband and I could reconnect, laugh, drink scotch and sake, and play cribbage well-into the night. It’s where we could have GTA marathons with the Xbox we surprisingly remembered to pack. It’s the place where our kids would actually play outside together. It’s where every dog we’ve had could run, play, and catch frisbees. Rain? Who cares. We built fires and snuggled into the couch. We napped.
It’s where our friends could drop in without a phone call (remember, no phone) and surprise us, and where we could reconnect with them. Breathtaking sunsets, late-night conversations, lazy days where the only pressing item on our agenda was to finally put that Green Bay Packers puzzle in the closet together. Books devoured, sketches drawn, Arrested Development, Season II watched for the 25th time (because it was the only season we owned on DVD), food on the grill, beer, cigars in the breezeway, trips through the woods to visit the illusive little village, picking Forget-Me-Nots in the woods with my little Sofia. And the lake. THE Lake. The mother-of-all lakes. Superior. She beckons you like a siren to leave your life as a corporate hack and convinces you that selling driftwood art really could be a sustainable business model. It’s also where I finally decided to drop my silly pursuits and pick up a camera instead.
It has been my experience that when you disconnect from the world for awhile and start connecting with what you love, things start to come together. Thoughts become clearer, priorities are reevaluated, and you begin to get a better idea of who you really are.
It turns out that I really hate politics, that I’m actually a nature-loving-hippie/borderline-redneck, an artist, a wife who adores her husband immensely, a mother who loves being silly (and really freaking weird) with her kids, and fiercely loyal friend. And a pretty decent photographer. For me, there has been no better place to find myself and what I’m meant to be than on Madeline Island.
Okay, so I’m still a corporate hack. With a camera. For now.