Sunday, December 27, 2009

Write of Passage - Day 6

August 7, 2009: Crescent City, CA--Morning on the Coast

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain

I woke up this morning, early, before daylight. By nature, I'm not one who ever goes back to sleep once I'm awake. When I'm up, I'm up. Nevertheless, I knew for a fact that going back to sleep today was out of the question. It wasn't even a consideration. Waiting for us just beyond
the threshold of our hotel door, were treasures like we have never seen before. The mighty Pacific ocean was less than a stone's throw away; the towering Redwood National Forest was just down the road. There was so much to see today, so much to touch, taste, smell, and breathe in. I wondered how a single day was going to hold it all. Was it even possible? Yes, today was going to be huge. There was no way I was staying in bed for one more minute of it.
I slipped from beneath my covers, and padded my way softly to the balcony, sliding open the small glass door. The sound of waves gently washing over the rocky shore, was like beautifully orchestrated music, being played for those who were awake to listen. I couldn't see the water yet, but it wouldn't be long before the morning sun brought it to full light.
I knew then where I needed to be. I had to be on the shoreline, when this day broke open. The water's edge was pulling on me as surely as the moon pulls on the ocean's tide.
It would have been easy to let Cote sleep, to let her stay inside the warmth of her dreams. I could have quietly slipped out of the room, and explored the coast in solitude, in silent meditation and morning prayer. But Cote and I had come so far together. I couldn't walk out without first waking her up, asking if she wanted to join me. I went back inside and shook her gently.
"Cote, it's morning. It's early, really early, but I'm going to go down to the water. Do you want to come with me?"
"What? What time is it?"
"Not quite 6. But I want to be down there before the sun comes up. You don't have to go, but I didn't want to leave without asking you."
"No. I think I'll stay here. Is that alright?"
"Yeah, that's fine. It's just that we've come all this way, to reach the west coast. I just have to be out there, I have to see it. I don't want to miss any of it."
A heavy sigh escaped from beneath the blanket.
"Hold on. I'm coming with you...."
We didn't even get dressed. What for? This morning wasn't about trying to make a good impression on was instead about impressing the beauty of nature on our hearts, as we continued to keep this rite of passage real and true. We slipped on our sandals, and headed downstairs, dressed in our comfy pajama pants and sweatshirts. We made one quick stop at the breakfast counter, which was still closed, but a thermos of hot coffee was waiting for those early risers in need of a quick caffeine kick. I grabbed a cup and took it along with me.
As Cote and I stepped outside, the light of day was just beginning to break. We climbed over the grassy embankment, and gingerly picked our way over pebbles and driftwood to the water's edge. Without saying a word, we knew what had to be done first.
Standing side by side, we simultaneously dipped our toes into the mighty Pacific. The chilly water had us squealing with delight, as it rippled around our feet. Multi-colored stones sparkled back up at us, each one like a tiny, tempting jewel. We were here. Finally. We were as far west as the open road was going to take us. But nothing about this trip was over. In life, nothing is ever really "over." The landscape just changes. The path may curve, the road may fork, or in our case, even end. But the possibilities in life remain as vast and wide as the ocean of blue stretching out before us. Endings, after all, are just new beginnings, waiting to happen. Cote and I could stand together upon this shoreline and look back at how far we'd come, as well as look forward to all that was yet to be.
It was while we were looking forward, that the most amazing thing happened. In the grey mist of morning, with the sun slowly kissing both the surface of the water and the boulders that dotted the shoreline, the rocks began to move! Cote and I couldn't believe our eyes! We pointed and squinted, and pointed some more. How could this be? What was happening?
Finally, the sun broke through strong enough to fade the hazy mist, and into full view came harbor seals. Tons of them......right before our very eyes! They stretched and yawned, and groaned and grunted. They had been there the whole time, waiting to add a whole new dimension to our ever-changing landscape. But who knew? Once again, the possibilities of life seemed endless before us. Cote and I stood in silent awe for several minutes, watching as these majestic creatures came to life, bold and beautiful.
Finally, with an empty coffee cup now in hand, Cote and I were ready to explore the shoreline and scavenge the beach for the most unusual rocks we could find. We drifted in between and around the huge boulders that rose up out of the water like giant sea
creatures rising from the deep. We climbed a few, we slid our fingers across their slippery surface, and we peeked inside cracks and crevices so as not to miss a thing. We met a local woman out walking her dog, and we stumbled upon a few "fishermen" wading in thigh high water, poking poles under the massive rock formations. We had no clue what they were fishing for. So after casually watching for a bit and not seeing them pull anything from the water, we thought what the heck, and decided to shout out and ask. Eels, they replied. They were fishing for eels, which hide beneath the rocks when the tide goes back out to sea. They made good eating, or so the young fisherman claimed. We exchanged a few more shouted questions and answers, and then Cote and I bid our thanks and wished them good luck.
We explored more of the coastline and then eventually wound our way back to where we started, the beach in front of our hotel. There was something here that Cote and I had seen earlier when we first climbed over the grassy embankment, that we were anxious to get back and take a closer look at. It was a stick shelter, made from large pieces of driftwood.
It looked like a small wooden hut. When we first stepped on to the beach at daybreak, two young people, a guy and a girl, seemed to have staked a claim upon it. They sat on the pebbly shore, close to the structure, but not exactly close to each other. Now they were gone, nowhere in sight, so Cote and I circled around the driftwood hut and then stepped inside.
Someone had spent the night here.
There was a small makeshift fire pit, and a fast-food wrapper wadded up in a ball. A couple of log stools were pushed back against the "wall" and there was enough space to spread out a sleeping bag. Maybe the young
(18-20 year old?) rumpled couple we had seen earlier, had done just this. Spent the night here. Maybe they were homeless. Maybe they were adventure-seekers. Maybe they were locals who snuck out for the night. Or maybe they were just passing through town and needed a free place to stay. We didn't know their story, but like everyone else in the world, we were sure they had one.
Our morning continued on in this relaxed, easy fashion. Cote and I explored and talked, we collected rocks and spoke of life's possibilities. We finally went back inside the hotel, with grumbling tummies, to grab a bite to eat. We sat down in front of the huge plate glass windows, overlooking the ocean, a view we couldn't get enough of, and one that filled us in a way food never could.
Before long, the rumpled young man returned, wandering back from down the shoreline. He was alone, with his head bent low, almost as if he was studying the very ground he walked upon. Cote was interested in him. Being close in age, she wanted to know what brought him here, where he was from, and where he might be going.
"Go talk to him," I said.
"What? No way. I couldn't. What would I say?"
"I don't know. Just walk out there. See what happens. "
"I'm scared. What if he thinks I'm weird, or what if the girl shows up and thinks I'm hitting on him?"
"But you're not, Cote. And you're in a safe place. You're in front of a hotel full of people. I'll be sitting right here if you need anything. If you're curious, go out there. Strike up a conversation if it feels right. If it doesn't, just sit there and take in the ocean. If you don't at least try, you'll always wonder what might have happened if you did. Think about it. What do you have to lose? And what do you stand to gain?"
She went. And I watched in amazement, as my daughter walked outside, stepped over the embankment, and took the trail leading down to the water. She would face this fear head on, all on her own. She wouldn't be holding anyone's hand, nor would she have the luxury of someone beside her, adding a buffer zone to any possible embarrassment she may encounter. She had only herself to fall back on. But in doing so, she stood the chance to discover a strength inside herself that was there all along.
I opened my journal, and began to make a few sketches. I pretended my mind was focused on the page in front of me, and not on my eldest child who at that very moment was out in the world all alone. I forced myself to give her time--I forced myself to trust, and I let her go just a little bit more. I looked at my watch, and then turned to look out over the ocean. The embankment blocked her from my view. I took a deep breath, and imagined myself glued to the chair beneath me. I fought the urge to follow. Because really, if I couldn't give her this much, how would I ever let her leave for college in just three short weeks?
After a respectable amount of time (by whose standards, I'm not saying), I gathered up my things, refilled my coffee cup and headed out to find her. She was sitting quietly on a large piece of driftwood, all alone, and lost in thought. The rumpled girl had returned. She was down shore with rumpled boy. They were near the shelter, but still not really near each other. I went and sat next to Cote, curious as to what had happened.
"I didn't talk to him."
"No? Why not?"
"Well, I waited for a bit and just kind of watched to see if he might be open to either of us saying something. But he kept his head down, and then the girl came back. I thought about going up to the both of them, but it just didn't feel right. So I sat down here instead."
"That's OK, Cote. You followed your gut, and that's a good thing. You gave it a shot, so there's no regrets, right? Think about it.....that's more than what a lot of people would have done."
"I know. It's just that I would still like to know their story. I bet they have a lot of interesting stuff going on."
"Yeah, I bet you're right. I bet they do."
We sat there a while longer, not wanting to end the ebb and flow of either the ocean or our thoughts. It had been a magical morning. Full of newfound discoveries, about the world and about some of those who live in it, ourselves included. When the time seemed right, Cote and I stood up, headed back to our room, and got ready for the rest of our day. We had towering trees waiting for us down the road. The ocean had given us the opportunity to look forward, straight out into the horizon, and then back again inside ourselves. The redwoods would draw our eyes upward, towards the very heavens themselves.
I couldn't even begin to imagine what kind of gifts would be waiting for us there.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Write of Passage - Day 5

August 6, 2009: Battle Mountain, NE to Crescent City, CA (545 miles)

"...Take what you've learned so far and broaden it. Be a good listener. Be a good friend. But don't let people use you.....Don't forget where you came from and who you are. And remember, we all love you very much."
~Aunt Sis, Write of Passage letter, August 2009

We drove from Nevada to Oregon to California today, taking more back roads, dotted with more small and spaced-out towns. The landscape eventually began to change, but it took driving all the way through the rest of Nevada to finally see it. The sagebrush and
rocky desert continued well after we left Battle Mountain. We headed North on Highway 95, leaving civilization behind us for the better part of the day. Actually, since Cote's cell phone had no reception out here, it was road signs that became our only link to the "outside" world. We had Smokey the Bear who told us that there was a "very high" fire danger, and a yellow caution sign that warned us to watch for wild donkey crossings. (Which, lo and behold, happened to come in handy!). There was a huge black and white metal sign stating our duty to report any highway shootings we may witness while traveling the open frontier, and another sign graciously noting that it would be over 80 miles before we saw another gas station. (Yes, I heeded that one, thank you very much!).
There were signs warning against falling rock, snow zones, steep downgrades, and much more. Cote was so intrigued by all these captions, she became a "road-sign junkie," snapping pictures of every one,
digitally immortalizing them forever. There were no farms, no homes, no nothing else to really see out here. We were just a mother and daughter, on a journey, looking for signs....
Way out in the middle of nowhere, we turned off Highway 95 and took Route 140 west. This road would eventually cross us over the Oregon border, but we still had plenty of ground to cover (more than 100 miles). Occasionally, a mountain of rock would pop up,
and we'd have to trek up one side of it and back down the other, curving precariously at times as the road narrowed to a tight two lanes.
Finally Oregon arrived, and with it came a few farms, a few cattle, and a few fields. Not many. Just one here, and several miles later, another one there. But it broke up the landscape, and it gave us something to point at. Oregon also brought something else, though. A wicked thunderstorm. Somewhere out in the middle of this wide open space, a terrible storm blew in. Our car was engulfed by a sheet of rain so dense, we couldn't see past the windshield. Our wipers flew back and forth at top speed, but did no good. A grey curtain had been pulled down all around us.
There was no place to run, no place to hide, nothing we could do to stop it.
That was when the hail hit. I couldn't believe my eyes and ears. Hard packed, dime-size snowballs, pelted our roof and hood. But again, there was absolutely no place to take cover. The sound was deafening and made me sick to my stomach. All I could imagine were thousands of tiny pock marks being indented all over the black paint of our less-than-one-year-old Ford Edge. I pulled over to the side of the road, hoping that by sitting still the
pelting would be less intense. I wanted to cry, but Cote wouldn't let me. In a crazy "Freaky Friday" kind of moment, she took on the role of adult, while her mother sat curled up and sniveling in the driver's seat.
"Mom, it's ok," she soothed. "It's just a car, it can be fixed. There's nothing we can do about it, so just let it go. Everything will be alright."
Of course, she was right. So I stopped my whining, but kept my eyes shut.
She, on the other hand, picked up her camera and took more pictures.....
The storm finally passed, and when I reopened my eyes, I felt like Dorothy stepping into Oz. Everything around us had new color, new life. The air was fresh, clean. The dry, brittle, dusty feel of the past several days was gone. We put the car in gear, and drove on. As we did, the color green grew stronger and bolder before our eyes. Oregon had fields of grass and groves of pine. Trees. Beautiful, green, and soul-pleasing trees. They started out small, almost inconspicuous at first, but grew taller and fuller the farther we drove in. There was a renewed sense of hope here, a deeper shade of life. Yes, we had to weather a storm to reach it, breathe it, feel it. But sometimes isn't that the way life is?
The miles passed, and California closed in, as more green foliage closed up the sides of the roads. Gone were the wide open spaces. Now we were cocooned inside the safety of the trees, nestled in the arms of their outstretched limbs. The coast was somewhere just beyond the next towering pine. We couldn't see it yet, but we knew we weren't far. The air had a distinct smell, fresh, powerful. The ocean breeze was faint, but growing stronger. Night was drawing
near by the time we finally crossed the California border. Looking at the map, we had only about 50 miles to go before we reached Crescent City, but Highway 199 was a road full of twists, turns, and pull-offs, which allowed faster moving traffic to pass. A foggy mist had settled in, followed by a light drizzly rain, making the drive even slower for those of us unfamiliar with the territory. It was painstaking. Cote and I knew just beyond the next curve, the next tree, the ocean was patiently waiting for us. Yet every mile we logged seemed like ten. We were tired, exhausted, anxious with anticipation.
Finally Highway 199 ended, and 101 was there to welcome us. The fog still loomed along the edges of Crescent City, but we were thankful to be here, as we pulled into the first motel we could find, a Best Western. I went in, asked for a room, and was told they were booked solid. What??! No!! I returned to the car, and told Cote to start praying. She had been talking with Hannah on the phone, so she petitioned her sister to do likewise. The Best Western people told me our only hope for a room would be the Hampton Inn, down the road. The one sitting right on the water's edge, with the beautiful ocean view. I could only imagine the cost. But we had finally arrived at the coast. Cote and I had driven over 2300 miles to get here, and had done so with minimal amount of spending. I was ready to pay full price, if need be.
One thing I had learned back in Steamboat Springs, CO, however, was that hotel prices could be negotiated. I'll share that story some other time, but suffice it to say, after being successful in Steamboat, I was wondering how I could fair in Crescent. I walked up to the counter and was greeted by the manager. Or at least I assumed he was the manager. He looked the part, anyway. He had also just separated himself from the younger "manager-wannabe-looking" guy stationed further down the check-in counter, who was helping someone else book a room.
"Good evening, may I help you," my guy asked.
"Yes, do you have a room available?"
"Only a few left tonight, but we do have one on the third floor, with a balcony over-looking the ocean."
"Uh, huh. And how much does that one run?"
"Well, our regular rate would be......." He wrote the figure on a small piece of paper and then slid it over for me to see. $259.(!) My heart hiccuped. "But, I can discount it for you tonight, and let you have it for......" Again he scribbled. $159.
Of course, this figure had me breathing again. But still I wondered....if my guy is being so secretive, what exactly does this mean? Am I supposed to counter-offer? Is he expecting me to?
I smiled, and asked what amenities his hotel offered.
"A full hot continental breakfast, of course. Use of all the facilities, free wi-fi, etc."
I did my best to look both pleased, but also slightly unsure.
" daughter and I just drove all the way from Michigan to see the Pacific coast. It's been a really long haul. You don't by chance, have a special Michigan-rate, do you?"
Then I smiled as sweetly as my tired face would allow.
"Well, I suppose for our guests from Michigan, I could let you have it for....."
Scribble, scribble.....$139.
Of course, I grabbed it. Yes, it was only another $20 discount, but hey, it paid the taxes.
The room was gorgeous, the view would surely be spectacular by morning. (It was still foggy and overcast). It didn't matter that we couldn't enjoy it tonight. By the time Cote and I dropped our backpacks, we were ready to call it a day. I did, however, have to return to the lobby about 20 minutes after we checked in. As I passed through, I just happened to over-hear "manager-boy-in-training" tell a new arrival he was sorry, but the hotel was completely booked for the night. So, it was true. We did get one of the very last rooms at the Inn. Our prayers had been heard and answered. I had a quiet feeling, though, that this had been part of some master plan all along. That Cote and I ended up right where we were supposed to be. Something told me, come morning, we would open our eyes to this vast ocean before us.....and see just how far we'd come......and realize just how endless life's possibilities would always be.

P/S.....for those who may be wondering.....our car was just fine. Not a mark on it!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Write of Passage - Day 4

August 5, 2009: Steamboat Springs, CO to Battle Mountain, Nevada (664 miles)

"You know, the Wise Men also traveled west...
~Peter T., email of encouragement, sent August 2009

I was awakened at 2:00 a.m., by the sound of typing. The clicking noise was distinct even though I was submerged in total darkness. For a moment I couldn't remember where I was, but that wasn't the immediate question spark-knocking inside my brain. Instead, I was wondering....."What in the world is she doing texting at this hour?"
"Are you texting?"
"What are you doing?"
"Are you calling someone?"
"Then why are you awake?"
"I'm looking at a map Kwaku's son sent me."
"So you're on your computer."
"You're can you be looking at a map, if you're not on your computer?"
"What are you talking about?"
This was when it hit me.....Cote was talking in her sleep! I was having a full-blown argument with someone who wasn't even semi-awake. What threw me on the defense so quickly was her immediate response to the very first question (accusation?) I threw at her. Cote practically sat straight up in bed, and barked a clear, precise answer. I thought for sure she was trying to "hide" some kind of electronic activity under cover of darkness and blankets. For almost 30 seconds, she kept pace with me, answering every question I catapulted her way. And yet she was totally and completely oblivious to the entire exchange taking place.
Unfortunately, about the same time I realized she had been sleeping, Cote became fully awake. And in that moment, the only thing she remembered was me calling her a "liar." Which technically wasn't true.....I said she was ly-ing. I didn't say she was a li-ar. Which is a huge difference. But not at 2 am, it seems. Cote was ready to do battle, her honor was at stake. All I wanted to do was go back to sleep and put the whole misunderstanding behind us.
"I'm sorry, go back to sleep."
"No! You called me a liar."
"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did."
"Cote, I heard a noise and I thought you were texting. But you were sleeping, and then talking in your sleep. So, just go back to bed."
"No! You called me a liar."
So begins Day 4 ......
Both of us eventually cooled down enough to fall back asleep, but the incident was far from being over. I knew it had only been postponed until morning light.
When the sun did break through the crack in our curtains, I got up and readied myself, letting Cote sleep a few extra minutes. I thought giving her this little "peace offering" would lift her mood and help smooth over our midnight mayhem. No such luck. When Cote crawled out from beneath the covers, I could tell she was still very much put out with me. What's more, given the nature of our "fake" argument, I think we both had to admit that a few unresolved "text-messaging/facebooking" issues still lingered between us.
I'll say one thing for small motel rooms.....there's no place to hide. We were forced to face each other over the next 20 minutes. We brushed past each other as we moved to brush our teeth. We exchanged silent glances while we silently packed our bags. Finally, it became just too much for the both of us. I don't remember who offered the olive branch first, but it was finally extended, accepted, and reciprocated. Cote and I sat down and talked about why we said what we said, why we felt what we felt, and how bizarre it was to have such disagreement in the middle of the night. By the time we were ready to check out, we were laughing at ourselves and each other. We were ready to move on.
And move on we did! We left Steamboat Springs by 9 am, (Mountain Time), and logged almost 700 miles before the end of the day! We skipped the jaunt north to catch the faster-moving I-80, and stayed instead on the lonely, quiet Highway 40. This back road was a long stretch of really not much. We saw some beautiful red foothills and a few very small towns, but really nothing more. It was rare for us to even meet another car.
We passed Hayden and Maybell, Elk Springs and Dinosaur (yes, that's right). Itty-bitty blips on the map that hardly registered any kind of arrival or departure. Cote and I stopped only once, somewhere out there in the middle of nowhere, to buy a stick of beef jerky and a frozen Snickers ice cream bar from a lone standing convenience store. We kept moving towards Salt Lake City and civilization. We didn't dismiss the passing landscape, though. Cote and I were still first-time explorers in all of this. We took note of every rock, tree, bush, and blue horizon. Even a desolate route such as Highway 40 held its own kind of beauty, hopes, possibilities. We were mindful not to take a single mile for granted.
Around 1:00 we passed a sign for Park City, Utah. Having been to this little storybook town myself several years ago, I made a quick decision to take the exit and take Cote. I told her about the quaint, mountainside village full of unique shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques. It would be fun to check out together, and it would do us good to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. We pulled into town, and snagged one of the last available parking spots at the top of the hill. Opening our car doors, we were slammed by 100 degree heat, shocking our well air-conditioned bodies. Who was it again that thought we needed this air?
Despite the overwhelming temps, we decided to browse a bit. After passing a few store-fronts, however, it soon became obvious that we were not in the mood to shop. Something about all the excessive "materialization" in front of us contradicted the simple "rite of passage journey" taking place inside of us. Nevertheless, we looked through a few more windows, we stretched our road-weary legs.
We decided we couldn't resist one particular Native American Art/Jewelry store. The open doorway was warm and inviting, the pieces on display were utterly stunning. We stepped inside, taking in the beauty that surrounded us. An older, grey-haired gentleman (the owner?) stood oddly silent behind the counter, so Cote and I offered easy smiles as a way to introduce ourselves. His face didn't flinch an inch. A bit puzzled, (wasn't he happy to have company in the form of potential customers?)....we continued to browse the first floor of his establishment. It didn't take long to realize why his measure of welcome was so meager. The bracelet sparkling in the glass case I was leaning over cost $400. The picture that caught Cote's eye, was signed by the artist and price-tagged at $2,500. As we walked over to the stairwell leading up to the second floor, a large, hand-woven rug hung from the banister, with a price tag reading "$5,000" and sign next to it that said, "Do Not Touch."
Of course by then, we knew what the shopkeeper was thinking, and he was pretty much right. But without missing a beat, Cote and I raised a hidden eyebrow to each other, and let the games begin. We talked about how beautiful this item was, and how great that one would look in our living room. We moseyed upstairs, fingering trinkets left and right, and commenting on how extraordinary they were. We reached the top landing and turned to each other in disbelief and disgust by the owner's judgemental behavior. Yes, we were dressed in t-shirts and cargo shorts. No, we weren't going to buy anything here. But did we really deserve this type of treatment? Cote and I were just about to start verbally spewing our thoughts, when we heard his footsteps climbing the stairs below. What in the world??!!
He came to the top of the landing, crossed his arms over his chest, and spoke not a word. He didn't have to. His body language said it all......"please leave." So we did. Not in a rush, but at our own sweet pace. We continued our pleasantries and headed casually back downstairs, drifting out the door. Once we were on the sidewalk, Cote and I let it rip! We tore this guy's attitude apart limb by limb. We unleashed the anger bottled up inside of us over his rudeness, and stomped across the street to Cows, a highly regarded ice cream shop. Nothing like some frozen dairy to cool down a couple of hot-tempered women! (To this day, we kick ourselves for not telling that man exactly what we thought of his behavior. Why didn't we, we wondered later. What were we afraid of?)
Thankfully, the salesgirl behind the counter at Cows was as sweet as the treat she was scooping up for us. She even complemented Cote on her "fork" bracelet*, finding it totally unique and different from anything she had ever seen. We told her she could make one herself, at a cost of less than a dollar, which was a much better deal then the prices being charged across the street. We thanked her for her hospitality, collected our cones, and headed for the car. Within minutes, we put this "storybook" town behind us, and had another chapter in our own book to write......this time entitled, "Be Careful How You Treat People...Or You Might Just Find Yourself Blogged."
From Park City, we drove straight through Salt Lake City, without even stopping. The expressway was crazy, the traffic intense. But the mountains were gorgeous in the full afternoon sun. I couldn't tear my eyes away from them, even when all that was left was their reflection in my rearview mirror. As the city faded away, we noticed dirt-crusted white stuff edging both sides of the highway. Salt. The beginning of the Great Salt Desert was upon us, only to be honest, Cote and I had no clue what we were in for. Mile after mile we drove on, as the white stuff began to spread farther and farther into the distance, and become whiter and whiter. We kept going, trying to focus most of our attention on the Nevada border and the Pacific Time Zone. (Where we would gain another hour of driving time). Nevertheless, the salt grew more and more intriguing to us. What did it feel like, we wondered? Was it hard? Compact? Or sprinkled and loose? If we stepped out on it, would our feet sink in, or would its coarseness scrape our soles? Finally, with only 20 miles left of Utah to travel, I turned to Cote and said, "Let's pull off at the next spot available, and see what this stuff's like for real."
Of course, Cote was more than ready. Right then, a "rest stop" came into view. Little did we know, however, that we were actually pulling into the Bonneville Salt Flats, the place famous for the world land-speed record runs.
The salt was amazing. Hard-packed, and rock-solid. The first thing we did was taste it, finding its flavor so
intense, our tongues curled on contact. Then we took our shoes off, and walked gingerly around on the vast sea of salt, the roughness of the surface prickling the bottoms of our feet. Finally, we tried to scoop some up to bring home with us, but that wasn't so easy. The salt was packed so tight, we had to use the metal cup from our thermos to scrape the top layer loose. We snapped some fun pictures of each other, wrote our names with the few rocks to be found, and then washed up and returned to the highway.
It was late afternoon, and we still had over 200 miles to go.
By nightfall, we had made it to Battle Mountain, Nevada, about 1/2 way across this state. It was only Wednesday, and it was crazy to think we'd been gone from home only four short days, and yet we'd traveled so far. I was getting excited about seeing the coast, and a bit nervous about climbing the trees. After spending yesterday in the Rockies, I realized how anxious I became every time Cote leaned over a guardrail for a better view or stepped to the very edge of a look-out point. How in the world was I going to handle watching her climb 200 feet up a tree? This dream of ours was drawing closer by the minute. Come Saturday there would be nothing left standing between us and making it come true. Now really wasn't the time to start questioning what we were about to do. But I couldn't help myself. Minuscules of self-doubt were creeping in. Was I being an irresponsible parent in this whole undertaking? Or was I helping my daughter to live fully, and to see beauty in the world, from different angles and new perspectives. I said a prayer that the answer would lie with the latter, and turned out the light...letting faith take over from there.

*Cote's fork bracelet is really made from a fork. She had it bent to fit around her wrist, and wears it with the tines facing on top. She wears it most every day, along with many other braided and beaded ones. It's actually very cool looking....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Write of Passage - Day 3

August 4, 2009: Sydney, NE to Steamboat Springs, CO (323 miles)


"This is a view to which nothing needs to be added...This scenery satisfies my soul."
~ Isabella Bird, 1879
A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

Isabella was right...the Rockies lack absolutely nothing. Oh, how my soul was satisfied today! Every minute, every vista...unbelievable. While this was Cote's first trip to the Rockies, it's actually my second. My parents brought me here when I was 12, some thirty years ago. As a young girl, I remember being blown away by the sheer size of the mountains....but today, as an adult, it was their unmeasurable beauty that captivated me. This place is simply indescribable. In fact, I'm anxious about even attempting to write today's journal entry, as there are no words powerful enough in the english language to describe what we saw. These mountains are majestic, monstrous, and magnificent. See? That's the best I can do, and yet I still fall so far short....
Cote and I started our day by checking out the small town of Sydney before getting back on I-80. Since the motel we had chosen last night was nestled right next to the very first Cabela's ever built, Cote insisted that we go inside. (She wanted to compare this outdoor retail giant with the newer version back home.) Once again, the excitement level for me was struggling to reach "root canal" on the meter reader. But it was 8 a.m., Cote's face was full of adventure, and she was ready to seize the day. We pulled up and went inside.
The place was a let-down, in both size and swagger. There was no towering mountain teeming with taxidermy, no bubbling brook trickling with trout. Just a few racks of clothes, some odd and ends in outdoor gear, and a couple second-rate stuffed animals. Cote's enthusiasm could not be curbed, however. She quickly explored the store, snapped a few shots, and even found herself hamming it up with Mighty Joe-Handsome, who just happened to be lounging in a floor model hammock.
By 9:30 we managed to route ourselves back to the highway, and head towards Cheyenne,Wyoming. According to the map, we had a decent stretch of time before we reached the Rockies, so I decided to unpack one of the questions I had brought along with me on this trip. Just a few weeks ago, Cote had broken off the 15-month relationship she had had with her high school boyfriend. The breakup wasn't easy, but Cote knew it was necessary. The fit hadn't been right, the differences between the two had been apparent for some time. Nevertheless, she was still healing and still letting go.
Although I knew Cote was ready to move on, and she knew I totally supported her decision, I didn't want her to miss any life lesson in all of this either. It was possible, in her rush to put the past behind her, that she might dismiss the relationship without so much as a backward glance. Or worse, come to think of the past year as a huge "waste" of time. I didn't want that to happen. In every relationship, no matter how long it lasts, there is something brought out, brought up, or brought to your life. It may be a quick jolt of laughter, or a long term commitment. A new outlook, or a new look within. The relationship may change the compass settings of your life, or brush the fog from your view, making your path that much clearer. Over the past 15 months, this relationship had planted seeds of growth and maturity for Cote. I didn't want the sprouts to become raked over and buried under mounds of muck and mud.
So I composed my question carefully. I turned to her and asked....."Cote, knowing what you know now.....what will you look for in your next relationship? What are some of the qualities you liked about "M" and what are some that were missing for you?" The question opened up a flood of conversation, sprinkling water on the soil of her past year. It also revealed a few stray weeds, which we plucked from the ground together. We talked about the good, and the not so good, the obstacles, and the break-throughs. What she learned, what she liked, what she would repeat, and what she would leave behind.
As our heart-to-heart grew deeper, the mountains in the distance grew closer. Before we knew it, we had turned south on Highway 25 at Cheyenne and crossed over the Colorado border. We were headed for Trail Ridge Road, one of the more scenic routes in the Rocky Mountain National Forest. (or so I had read in one of the many brochures that had littered my bed last night.) We had a day to play in the Rockies, we wanted to make the most of it.
As we entered Estes Park, on the outskirts of RMNF, I was overcome with childhood memories. The mountains before me sparked scenes in my mind from 30 years ago. All of a sudden, I had the urge to call my dad back home. I pulled over to the side of the road, right in front of this Welcome to Estes Park sign, with the Rockies looming large behind
it. I dialed his number, and after a few quick rings, his voice came on the line. I immediately said, "Dad, guess where I am." Somehow, (to this day I still don't how), he knew and guessed correctly. Then he started reminiscing, pulling his own memories out for me to see while I sat there in the Colorado sunshine. Suddenly it was 1978 and I was 12 years old again.
"Let's see, if you're just outside of Estes Park, that means you drove through Big Thompson Pass. I remember you kids throwing snowballs at each other when we stopped at the Continental Divide, and then you got sick. Do you remember that? How we had to take you to the hospital in Denver?" He talked about Pike's Peak, Grand Lake, and how if he could, he would do it all again someday. He told Cote and me to enjoy ourselves, to see as much as possible, and drive safely. And that he loved us.
My Dad. My lifeline to days gone by...
From here on out, the day was wild! We drove up Trail Ridge Road, and stopped at every lookout we could find. We hiked, we climbed, we snapped picture after picture. Not one, however, came close to capturing the magnitude of beauty before us. Cote explored every inch, sometimes right out to what seemed like the very edge. We discovered hidden lakes, and encountered hillside elk. We drove to the highest point (12,183') and back down again, oohing and ahhing at every vista. (Side note: the whole way I was secretly praying that we wouldn't run out of gas....I know what you're thinking, but it wasn't because I wasn't paying attention this time. I actually thought we would have plenty of fuel to cover the 50+ mile stretch of Trail Ridge Road, but once the car started climbing these incredible mountains, the gauge started dipping...drastically! Come to find out, there is not one gas station to be found inside the RMNF. Who knew?? But eventually we reached the other end, and at Grand Lake we fumed our way in to the one and only filling station around.)
We played in the Rockies until well past 5 pm. (We even brought two huge fallen chunks home with us.) But like I said earlier, trying to describe it all would be impossible. So I think I'll stop right here, and let the pictures below do the rest. Let me just close out today's entry by saying we took the very winding, very lonely, Highway 40 west out of the RMNF, heading towards Steamboat Springs, to spend the night. It took us almost 3 hours to reach our destination, and it felt like we had driven hundreds of miles. Yet according to our map, we hardly moved an inch. We'll have plenty of driving to make up tomorrow, but I wouldn't change a minute of today.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Write of Passage-Day 2

August 3, 2009 - Davenport, Iowa to Sydney, Nebraska (692 miles)

"Make it through Nebraska by the end of the day, if you can."~ Josh, 8/3/09, 10:42 a.m.

Cote and I did our best to do just that, but when all was said and done, we fell short by 100 miles. We left Davenport, Iowa at 8:30 am, with fresh ice in our cooler and a hot cup of coffee from the nearest McDonald's. The plan was to hook up with Cousin Josh and Aunt Deb somewhere along I-80 during the morning hours. They were traveling east, coming home from Yellowstone National Park, where Josh had been working for the summer. He had lived, breathed, and explored this incredible outdoor wonderland for the past 60 days. Cote and I were excited to see them, and we couldn't wait to hear his stories.
Our paths crossed in Iowa City, 10 am. A McStop was just off the exit so we pulled in for an hour of coffee and conversation. How strange it was to meet up with family in a place so random, so far from home. They asked about our adventure, our plans, and climbing trees. We asked them about Yellowstone, its hidden treasures, and what to see if we only had two hours to spend there on our way back home. Josh's advice was priceless--"If you only have two hours in Yellowstone, here's what you do......Drive inside the park, and find a huge boulder. Stop the car, go over to the boulder and sit on it. Then put your head in your hands and start crying, because you only have two hours to spend in Yellowstone."
Since Cote and I had made a pact to have no set plan, no schedule, no "must-do" on this rite of passage, we accepted Josh's advice as much as we could, and continued on in faith, knowing all would be as it rightly should. We couldn't worry about how much time we'd have in places
we hadn't even visited yet, nor could we allow our minds to pitch forward into the unknown days ahead. Our only goal was to live the moment at hand.
After we said our goodbyes, we scooted back onto I-80 West, where cornfields and cattle dotted our landscape for the next 9 hours. The peaceful scenery led to a peaceful car ride, and once again Cote and I drifted in and out of contented silence. She snapped pictures, left and right, of nothing much at all, marking the minutes, masking the time. Then she took over driving at 2:00, owning the next 100 miles of Nebraska, while I kicked my chair back and took my eyes off active duty. Around 4 pm, the town of Kearny appeared, and we both got a bit slap-happy as there was finally something else to look at besides green fields and blue sky. We decided to take the exit, and hunt down a Taco Bell and the "Museum of Nebraskan Art," which sounded about as exciting to me as a root canal, but had caught Cote's fancy and she insisted we detour to check it out. (Actually, we weren't even sure this was the right name. We only caught a glimpse of the sign before exiting and then never saw another one again. We had no idea which way to turn, or what street to find it on). We rambled into town, laughing like a couple of school girls (which, I guess makes sense for one of us), while pointing out odd store-fronts and peculiar business signs to each other. One in particular, a huge white chicken perched above a neon sign advertising donuts, had Cote laughing so slap-happily I thought she was going to spit pieces of Crunchwrap all over the front seat.
After about 15 miles and a very valiant attempt, we finally gave up on finding the museum and headed back to I-80. We hit the expressway, and then hit the pedal a little harder....picking up speed until we were going 80 on 80. Wide open, flat green landscapes returned to greet us, only now they were speckled with large white windmills. They stood, row after row.....giant aliens stark white against fields of endless green. Their arms out-stretched, twirling slow, harnessing a power which could not be seen, to create a power within......a silent message taken to heart by the both of us, on this quiet, serene afternoon.
We hit a late-day dust storm, around Chappelle, NE, which quickly turned into an early-evening thunder & lightening show. It started with tumbleweed bouncing across the highway in front of us, entertaining Cote who had never seen such a sight, and distracting her from the darkening skies and rising winds. Rain eventually began pelting our car, blowing sideways across our
windshield. We drove on, trying to outrun a storm that seemed to be closing in and closing out the vastly blue and vastly quiet Nebraska sky we had grown accustomed to.
Our day ended just after nightfall when we pulled into Sydney. We were tired, we were spent. Going another mile was out of the question, for the next town on our map was well past the Wyoming border. Sydney, therefore, looked like a heavenly oasis at the end of our trek across a long, corn-fed desert. We found a simple motel, grabbed fresh clothes and our backpacks from the car, and then made like snails to our room. Stiff legs and growling stomachs, were relieved by hot showers and a quickly delivered pizza.
Around 11pm, Cote closed her laptop and I closed my journal. I thought our day had come to a close as well, but I was wrong. Instead of turning out the light, Cote launched a topic at me from out of the blue. My usually strong, always spirited, and for the most part, healthy self-esteemed daughter, had a question that was nagging her thoughts and picking at her resolve.
"Why is it that some people seem to like me, and others do not. And why......why...can't I just say, 'Like me, or don't. It's up to you and I don't care.'"
The fragile shell of our rite of passage, had finally broken open. The easy-breezy feel that had blown us this far on our journey, had been replaced by hidden storm clouds of self-doubt and self-worth, that I had no idea even existed. I sat there, amazed at the glimpse Cote was giving me into the interior of her 18-year-old soul. And the mother in me instinctively wanted to fight to protect her. I bit my tongue from blurting out an age-old response..."How could anyone not like you?" Instead, I had to remember who was now sitting in front of me, opening her heart, trusting me with her fears. Cote was no longer 5 years old, and having a spat with her best friend. She was a young woman, trying to determine the steps she needed to take to define who she would be in her own eyes, and in turn, who she stood to become in the eyes of others. I could not coo, I could not coddle her in response. She was searching for something more. And I had been given the distinct honor of helping her discover exactly what that something was.
Cote was asking a legitimate I had asked myself at her age...and one I'm sure we've all asked ourselves many times over.
So we forgot about the clock, we threw time out the window, and we talked well into the night. She described how certain people made her feel, and I did too. We realized that often times it's not so much about "us" as it is about "them".....when people don't seem to like us, because "they" are the ones carrying certain issues, specific baggage. We talked about finding strength to stand in the truth of who we really are, and finding ourselves in the midst of wherever we may be, and with whomever may be by our side. Sleep eventually caught up with us, gently and peacefully. But by the time it did, our minds had been put to rest, our spirits had been renewed. And as we both closed our eyes, our vision of each other had taken on a whole new scope of clarity.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Write of Passage-Day 1

August 2, 2009: Deerfield, MI to Davenport, Iowa (412 miles)

"Let your heart be your map." ~Hannah, 8/2009

Left home just after 1:00 p.m., after attending church in the morning and packing the car over lunch. Kind of weird heading out. Cote and I were excited, but we admitted it didn't feel real to either one of us. Felt more like we were on our way to Toledo for a day of shopping. When we hit the turnpike, however, and pointed the car west (don't we always go east?), reality began to set in. As we plucked our ticket from the big metal box and resumed our speed, our bodies seemed to sigh in unison and slide more comfortably down into the cushions of our seats. Was it my imagination, or had we been holding our breaths until then?

Light-hearted attitudes and conversations continued for awhile, but before long, the miles and minutes began to pass
in silence. We crossed the Indiana border, then the Illinois. Somewhere in that quiet stretch of highway, I had a mini-moment of panic.....What if the entire trip was like this? Long periods of time, with nothing but silence and changing landscapes taking
place between us? As quickly as that fear grabbed me, I let it go, however. I cracked open the window of my mind and let the eastbound breeze take it back to wherever it came from. I knew Cote and myself far better than to waste another minute fearing something like this. We had 12 long days ahead of us, with nothing but open roads to travel and wide open spaces to fill. There was no need to immediately unpack every question and conversation we had tucked into the suitcases of our minds. Rushing things would have felt forced, fake. Later in the evening, I realized what was really happening during those first few hours of our journey.....we were relaxing, releasing, and just being. We were emptying ourselves of all those distracting details that occupy one's minds every minute of the day. We were wiping the slate clean, in preparation of the lessons that would begin to arrive with tomorrow's sunrise. We were consciously allowing our souls to be silent in the wake of what was coming.
Topping our tank off in Toledo, took us as far as the cornfields of Princeton, IL.
(At which point, I was surprised to see we had less than "50 miles till empty" reading on our gas gauge. I had forgotten that as the only "acting" parent on this 5,000-mile trek, I would be the one solely responsible for such details as when to refuel! So, I petitioned Cote to pray for a quick-appearing gas station, and then made a mental note to check the gauge more regularly.)
Seven hours of driving didn't pass without a major mother/daughter discussion, however. The topic? "The Do's and Don'ts of Texting, 101." Cote and I stumbled into this conversation basically because she has a cell phone that works, and I don't. Let me explain...Her cell phone easily holds 5 full bars of reception and a reliable charge that can last for days. Mine must be plugged in for 18 hours so I can make one phone call before the line goes dead. Her cell phone takes messages, pictures, and can calculate how much to tip a waiter for a $13.68 bill. Mine will tell me if I missed a call (but not from whom). Hers, obviously has the ability to text. Mine has the ability to serve as a pretty paperweight for the stack of receipts I keep in the console of my car. It was easy to see who's phone would get the most use throughout the course of our entire trip.....Anyway, talking about the differences in our phones led to a late afternoon discussion on texting. Cote and I talked about our views on what's right, what's wrong, what's acceptable, and what's rude when using this modern form of communication. The slight (?) generation gap between us widened a bit as I expressed the negatives and Cote defended the positives. In the end, she agreed that in the presence of certain people (namely her mother at this point), it was rude to text or check for a text. And I conceded that yes, texting was a viable form of communicating with old friends and reaching out to new ones, and even suggested that her generation of "text-ters" may be expected to skillfully use this method of technology in the business world of tomorrow. But by the time Cote and I crossed over the Mississippi River, we had dipped even deeper into the whole "cell phone/texting" code of etiquette. We talked about how important it is to think about the message you're truly sending if you text while in the presence of someone else. Not the message you are typing with your thumbs and sending with the click of the keypad. But the message you are non-verbally sending to the person who is standing physically in front of you when you do. If you stop the flow of face-to-face friendship, in order to talk to the "invisible" face at the other end of your tiny keyboard , then what are you really saying? You're telling the person you're with, "You're not enough for me. I'm going to put some of my time and attention over here." What's more, you're placing yourself in two locations at once....something that used to be impossible to do....and for good reason. For if you divide yourself between two places, you can't be fully present in the magical moment of either. You'll end up with a chunk of time and attention that has been sliced, and diced, and split apart forever. And in the end, all that you'll have to show for your "dual-communicating" is a handful of texts that could have waited until later, and an opportunity missed entirely to be one-on-one with the one you're with.
Cote and I called it a night when we hit Davenport, Iowa, around 8:00 pm and pulled in to the AmericInn motel. As we walked inside our room, she handed me two letters from loved ones back home that she had kept secret from me in her backpack.
"Sure," she said. "You get two letters and I don't get anything. How do you like that?"
I turned my head and smiled. For I had 14 secret letters of my own, written by 14 incredible women from Cote's life. Months ago I had asked these women to do this.....write words of advice and and inspiration from their own lives for Cote to read and take to heart while on this sacred rite of passage. The letters would be handed out, one by one, over the next 12 days with no mention of when or from whom. I decided to let Cote "suffer"empty-handed a bit longer, while I savored my own unexpected letters and she took her shower. I still held off while she ate Chinese take-out, "face-booked" and sent goodnight text messages to her girlfriends back home. Then, just before she turned out the light, I casually tossed her first sealed envelope onto her bed. Cote let out a whoop of delight, and grabbed the precious gift, hugging it to her chest. Her fingers slid the note out from its holder, this one from Aunt Cathy, and the room fell silent as Cote fell under the spell of words carefully written in pen, just for her......

Monday, October 19, 2009

Write of Passage-The Journey Begins, Part 2

Alright, so we left off with the seed being planted, and the dream beginning to grow. But then what? Well, to be honest, for the next year and a half not much. In the hustle and bustle of every day life, Cote and I only spoke of climbing trees every so often. We threw occasional comments over our shoulders as we passed each other in the hall, and reminded one another that "someday" was still looming somewhere out on the horizon. Sitting down and mapping out an official plan of action never happened, though. There was too much other stuff to do. Cote was knee-deep in her senior year of high school, and I was in deep trying to keep up with what that all meant. Each day was a mini-milestone that needed to be savored, no matter how bittersweet.....from last school pictures, to final float buildings. Cote's last bump, set, spike to her final shot from the free throw line. And for me in particular, watching her come down the stairs dressed for her senior prom, to the moment I saw her walk up the aisle in her cap and gown. With each passing day, I could feel the child-like grasp Cote once kept on my hand, beginning to loosen. She was unlacing her fingers from mine, slowly and gently, one by one, and rightly so. Change was in the air. It fell upon us softly that year, along with the autumn leaves, the winter snow, and the springtime showers.
And one day it hit me.....soon we would become the faded shadows of who we used to be.
With this revelation came the pounding of an invisible time clock in my ear. The count-down was already well underway, to when Cote would be decorating a dorm-size new home and exploring a campus-size new backyard. Before I knew it, she would be out in the world, standing on her own, and making choices without the benefit of her mother's endless supply of unsolicited advice at her disposal. Was she really ready for this?....Was I?
Suddenly “tree-climbing” became crucial. But not just so we could push ourselves 250' up into the air anymore. It was now about a mother and daughter taking a journey that would weave them together, permanently and indefinitely, in a brand new way. A rite of passage that would open our eyes, our hearts, and our voices to what needed to be said, what needed to be felt. We needed time alone, time uninterrupted and time free of distraction, to talk about life, love, relationships, following one's heart, and believing in one's dreams. We needed time to talk about who we really were and who we were going to become. We needed time.
So, our tree-climbing conversations got serious. We quickly narrowed down the “when”--August, 2009. (June was disqualified because of graduation. July because of a family vacation.) The "how" was a bit more challenging, however. I had always assumed we would fly to the West Coast. It would make our trip shorter, easier and much more"manageable." It wasn't until March 2009, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, that I found out Cote had a totally different idea of transportation in mind. She wanted to drive.
"DRIVE?" I said. "Drive to Oregon? Cote, do you realize it would take us 12-14 days, round trip, to do something like that?...Think about it...14 a car...a-lone...with just your mother?"
Her answer surprised me, and then reminded me of what life is truly all about.
"Mom," she said, "It's not about just showing up and climbing a tree. It's about seeing everything there is to see along the way. It's about the journey...what it takes to get there. And I want to see it all. I don't want to miss a thing."
I sat there stunned. Her eyes held such passion and hope and determination. She believed we could really do this. For years I had been encouraging my girls to "fully participate in life everyday." I threw this phrase at them every chance I got, hoping it would stick. Now my oldest was sitting here, telling me she was ready to do just that. How could I say no?
And so, the final piece of the puzzle was put in place; we picked the date of our departure. Sunday, August 2nd, 1:00 p.m. Looking at the calendar, this would give us two full weeks before the next standing obligation in our agendas beckoned us back home. No other formal planning went into this trip, however. That part was intentional. The journey needed to match Cote's free-spirited style as much as possible. Thus, there were no schedules and no "must-dos." We had wiggle room inside this adventure for unexpected wrong-turns and detours, that of course would lead us right to where we were supposed to be. We had our destination. Eugene, Oregon. But how and when we got there was a blank book, all our own. It was wide open and ready for us to fill in, with our very own words and pictures scrawled across every page.
Well, there you have it...the history of how all this got started. It's time now to pack up the car and head west. Before we do, however, let me give you one final and fair warning. From here on out the writing style for this "Write of Passage" will become choppy. Some sentences you read may be complete, others I can promise will not. I'll be sharing straight from my journal.....notes I wrote after long days of driving, full days of "participating." You will be privy to some private conversations, you will view some incredible landscapes, and you will hear some quiet reflections that were taken from the back corners of my mind. I tried my best to capture everything. Every detail, every perspective, every hope, every disappointment, every triumph, every disagreement, every discovery.
It's time for us to get going. I hope you'll come back for the ride.
*End note: This trip did not materialize independently of conversations with Dan, my husband. Many discussions took place prior to Cote and I hitting the open road. Although I left this part out, know that these were important background conversations that held merit and weight. Suffice it to say, I had his blessing before we left. He understood my reasons, and he supported every precious mother/daughter mile.

Powerful Words

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable. ~Kahlil Gibran