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The Unexpected

(beach rock with orange stripe, daisies, dried eucalyptus leaves, pressed rose petals, wild rose hips)

I am an optimistic, but sometimes reluctant camper. I enjoy the anticipation and planning stages and this year I even bought a much larger tent. My mind and my spirit love the idea of camping so much. My body, however, often wants to check in at The Marriott. Last weekend I camped for a couple nights while showing at the Berkshire Arts Festival in Great Barrington, MA. The trip was great. The people were interesting and engaged. The camping was, well, challenging.

There was the normal getting used to sleeping on the ground after long, physical days. It was hot and muggy. Those things are to be expected in July. There were also a few unexpected experiences like the bad restaurant food that made for many trips to the lodge during the night, running in thunder and lightning. Then after finally settling down, finding a tic that needed to be pulled from my skin. "What else?" I thought to myself.

There were, however, other unexpected things during the little getaway that were happy surprises. I hadn't seen fireflies in years and the hillside was full of them! The wood thrush and veery riffs coming from the woods were magical! The "boat ramp" sign prompted a fun, spur of the moment jump in a lake after a 90-something degree sales day. And Great Barrington was a fun discovery with lots of surviving old architecture, lovely food, and soulful buskers in the evening streets.

When you read the title, "The Unexpected", I imagine there was a fifty-fifty chance you anticipated reading about bad things. You would be totally justified. Unpredictable politics. A pandemic. Upsetting natural disasters. It has been exceptionally difficult for a few years. It is easy to say, "What else!" You are protecting yourself. But I have an idea.

After photographing today's nature circle, I turned off the studio lights and spontaneously dropped some small wild rose hips and shot the circle again. That got me thinking. The unexpected doesn't always have to make you hold your breath waiting for bad news. It can also make you catch your breath because of something good. If I actually pause for a moment, I would like to think that in my life, there are more unexpected beautiful, joyful things to come than sudden disasters.

So I am going to challenge myself in this way. When facing something unexpected that is difficult or discouraging, I am going to ask myself, "What Else?" But this time, I will ask with the intent to acknowledge and appreciate some unanticipated gift and hopefully change my mindset. Unexpected love. A new friend. A constantly changing panoramic sky. Wildflowers that I have never seen. An unforeseen good outcome. The list can go on and on. We just need to see it.


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