Amid imperfection

Why do I do this? Why is this me?

Such thoughts filled my brain as I drove north on Interstate 5, awash with anxiety. In the passenger seat Tim dozed. Behind me our son absorbed music through headphones and watched farmland scenery pass by.

I'd spent the morning ticking off lists in my head and trying to do five things at once, getting ready for a two-night campout. Tim worked until early afternoon, then came home and loaded our conglomerated stuff neatly into the rear of the van. As my husband thought of many last minute activities I rechecked the dog and cat's ample supplies (they remain home when we go, their pet door a handy access to the back yard), all the while becoming more tense.

I'm a master at envisioning terrible scenes of car crashes, natural disasters, and, heaven forbid, forgetting the ketchup. It all comes, I guess, of wanting to do things right. I've always sought perfection. I've lived long enough to learn it's a slippery devil.

By the time I turned off I-5 and pointed us northeast toward the Santiam Pass area near Mt. Jefferson's wilderness, I wondered if maybe I should give up. If every time we go somewhere woodsy I have to anticipate ruin and tighten my muscles like the Sunday paper's rubber band, maybe this isn't good for me. Maybe getting away isn't worth it. Next time, I thought, I'll tell the guys sorry. I'll stay home.

Right then a bald eagle flew across the road yards ahead of us, just above eye level.

"Hey!" I yelled. "Look!" I stabbed the side window as Tim and my son caught sight of its snow-feathered tail and magnificent wingspan disappearing over a field.

My insides began to unwind.

Today I catch up at home. Our van is checked in to the mechanic's shop, because its engine began behaving badly after our second hike. We didn't know the road up to the hike would be so steep and potholed, or that the van would be nabbed by anxiety and flash its ominous "Service Engine Soon" light and refuse to offer much horsepower for the return trip home (fortunately Tim drove, and it was mostly downhill).

I didn't know how breath-catching the sunlit forest would be, or how the 360-degree blue-skied view atop Triangulation Peak would remain etched into my psyche to soothe every nerve, even though my camera batteries died before I could get a single shot(!). Warmer air than should have been possible lingered both evenings, as we sat on camp chairs talking into the dusky hours, enjoying the world sans plug-ins and traffic noise.

It all stimulated thoughts from my recent Kierkegaard readings, which if I've understood speak of living as an individual before God and life. No faith exists without risk. And so to attempt being who I am entails discomfort. But how the bright spots linger amid this imperfection.

So here are some imperfect pictures (as in, taken by Tim's low res digital camera). Fill in the missing pixels with imagination, while I go peek at tonight's beautiful full moon.

Tim found Boca Cave after descending a scrambly slope.

He shot me on top of the world.

It was pretty.


Cherie said…
Lovely post.

You are not alone in pre-camping anxiety. I get that way as well, except that as soon as I'm in the car and we are en route, I let it all fall away. "If I forgot anything, we'll figure something out. If we die, we die." :-)

Thanks for reminding me that I have my Kirkegaard book and need to read it. It doesn't do me any good sitting on the shelf.

And thanks for another vicarious hiking journey via this, your blog!
Anonymous said…
I don't really like camping (unless it's in a hotel with beautiful mountains surrounding me) so... I understand your anxiety... way to tough it out though! ;)
Deanna said…
Cherie, I shall try to remember next time (because of course I will go camping again), that I there's a kindred spirit out there who lets it all fall away even before the bald eagle shows up. Thanks.

And I still have your Annie Dillard book, btw, and I will finish it before the end of the decade, I promise.

And if you want to know the particular Institute readings from S.K., send me an email.

A Life Uncommon, give me the hotel with surrounding mountains any time. ;o) But I do like the woodsy quiet...
Pam said…
I don't camp, but I do the whole pre-wherever-we're-going freak-out thing. Maybe it's a way to make us appreciate the relaxation even more.
P.S. I'm enjoying all your pics!
Deanna said…
It really helps, Pam, to know I'm not alone. Glad to "see" you again, and I'm glad you like the pics.
Cecily said…
Hey! Love the photos (oh the pain of dead batteries. I know that pain!). And I often wonder if it's worth the stress to go away, but the other day I realised we hadn't been anywhere for ages and decided it is worth it. I need to get away!!!
Deanna said…
Here's hoping you get a break, Cecily.