Today was a travel day at work, and a solo trip at that. Leaving dry, hot, scorched Fresno at 7am is better than leaving at 1pm, when the place is an inferno. My destination was Monterey County via Pacheco Pass.
As I neared the center of the pass, I noticed the sky was dark, smudgy, angry looking. The hills were shadowed, even the trees seemed to droop. The temp outside had dropped by at least 20 degrees--my AC was warmer than it was outside. My mood started sinking right along with the skies. What am I going to do about this deadline, this task, this client? What about the kids? Why am I not a better parent? Why am I not more of a go-getter? What am I waiting for? What am I hurrying toward? How can I possibly be considered an adult when I'm really just a kid acting the part? Do the kids hate me? Do they have any inkling of how much I love them and would lay down my life for them? What can I do to make Dad take better care of himself? Did I call Grandma?I was headed to a business meeting, with a group of city leaders, law enforcement, community based organizations and faith based organizations that are trying to do something truly amazing to help a region in need. Not destined for white sand beaches and sea lions fighting over scraps, not for the beautiful scenery or sweet little boutique hotels, but for a small town to hear a lot of mixed news.
"Well, we talked to the kid that was shot, and he was hangin out with gangsters."
"We saw an increase in the number of kids self-reporting that they feel safe in school."
"It's tough, seeing the elementary school principals in tears, hearing first hand from students that they were punched, kicked, hit, or called mean names, when staff really thought it couldn't be happening at their school."
"Well, that one didn't count as a homicide really, it was a domestic violence issue that went all the way."
"We laid off another officer. Five more are scouting new positions because we've taken everything we can from them and demanded more."
I stopped on the way out of town for lunch. No-frills burger joint next to the freeway, it was a family run spot. Three young women were running the entire operation, doing their best to keep up with the lunch rush. I sat by a window, watching the slow-flow of small town summer life. Kids walking to the school to play ball. Young mothers pushing strollers almost as big as they were. Older folks out enjoying the cool breeze.
So on the way home, I had plenty of time to think about how incredibly blessed I am...what I'm thankful for, what makes my heart skip a beat.
Leona Lewis' song Better in time...which literally makes me teary every time I hear it. Mariah sang that for the school talent show last year--it stopped my heart. My sweet baby girl has the voice of an angel and wisdom far beyond her 11 years. My daughter has an old soul that truly shines when she sings. I adore her.
The amazing view and color contrast, driving through Pacheco Pass in the summer--rounding the curve where the San Luis Reservoir comes into view is excuse enough to make the trip. The water (especially when the levels are higher) is the most beautiful, calm shade of brilliantly dark blue. Set against the sun-scorched yellow and brown fields of waving grass, the reservoir calls you so strongly...that you miss the exit to go down for a closer look :)
My son. He's only 14, and such a man already. He makes mistakes, and takes out his frustration on me, he hurts, he loves, he grows. But I still see his sweet, wide-smiling face, and hear his little toddler voice. He likes to bring me back to reality by showing me how much taller he is than me :)
The pair of birds flying in circles, ever closer to the ground. For just a moment, they're suspended over the small valley I'm passing through. Wings spread, casting shadows on the waving grass below. Putting on a beautiful show that I often forget to enjoy.
My imagination takes control over my mind occasionally, and lets me fly over the valley with the birds, soak up the sun next to the beautiful water, see again those small things that I didn't absorb in the moment. It reminds me to hold close to what I love, and to enjoy it today. Not to constantly rush, or let myself be rushed.