Happy New Year! I thought I would share with you one of my favourite photos from this year, taken not that long ago in glorious Whytecliff Park. As the sun sets on 2016, I am left wondering, just like many of you, how we survived 2016. It was quite a year! A year marked by the loss of many favourite people, and marked by new words to wrap our minds around like Brexit, Aleppo, Trump. It seems like a good year to say a hearty good-bye to and move on.
But as with many tough times in our lives that we wished never happened, these moments do tend to define us, change us, reshape us. And maybe even bring us closer to our former selves. This is certainly where I find myself this early New Years Day morning. The sun is a long time from rising yet here on the west coast but I awoke today with what can only be called a lighter heart. A grateful heart. It was just this time last year that I was struggling to write a New Years post, sharing that the loss of my Dad still weighed heavily on my freshly broken heart. When I look back on that day a year ago, I recognize now that I was wearing the cloak of grief that is so hard to shed until enough time has passed to render it needless.
Little did I know then that I was also carrying another burden that I also gratefully shed this fall, a uterine tumour that was making my daily life miserable and eventually intolerable. Fortunately for me, this unwanted guest proved benign (such a good word!) and I am just now starting to appreciate a life unencumbered by pain. After a lovely visit home with my family over Christmas, where I cherished every moment I spent with them, I returned home to Coquitlam and spent four days literally sleeping. 2016 was exhausting! Yet on Friday I woke up long before dawn, like today, and felt ready at last to return to the world. To celebrate a new lightness of spirit that made me long for an adventure.
So I hopped in my car and headed for one of my favourite places here on the coast, Kitsilano Beach. This long stretch of beach looks out over the ocean, the North Shore mountains and Vancouver. It is one of my favourite spots to hike and get some much-needed fresh air. On Friday, the mountains were capped in fresh snow and the beach was thankfully empty and peaceful. As I walked along the quiet shore I felt this amazing sense of gratitude wash over me. I was alive! I had survived! I am still here, on this beautiful earth, an empty shell waiting to be re-filled with love and light. What a difference a year can bring!
I will leave you today with one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have encountered this year. It is a meditation by Canadian author Richard Wagamese in his recently published book, Embers. I would highly recommend this book – it is a quick but lovely read by a man who clearly has learned to love the journey his life has taken him on and wonderfully shares his gratitude, his intention, for each day ahead:
“Life is sometimes hard. There are challenges. There are difficulties. There is pain. As a younger man I sought to avoid them and only ever caused myself more of the same. These days I choose to face life head on – and I have become a comet. I arc across the sky of my life and the harder times are the friction that lets the worn and tired bits drop away. It’s a good way to travel; eventually I will wear away all resistance until all there is left of me is light. I can live towards that end.” – Richard Wagamese, Embers
In this new year, I wish for you love, laughter and light. May you become a comet! Come travel with me!
With much love, your Vagabond Photographer.