Journeys have been defined as a “trail of experience from here to there.” This sense of journey as having a start and finish, a trail’s end so to speak, fails to capture the essence of journey as taking us from here….to here. Journeys take us to new starting points – from where we can say “here I am!” As D and I travel on this journey, each section of our trip starts us anew and I realize that as we go from one location to the next that we go from “here to here,” always in the present.
Born in Wyoming to a family with generations of history in the state, I lived here for two periods in my life, birth through age 7, and ages 12-14. During 7th grade, my parents sold everything they owned, including our house in Phoenix, and cashed in their retirement accounts to move back to Wyoming and buy a herd of dairy cows and attempt to build a sustainable dairy operation. It was a shock to my system to be uprooted from a suburban life in the desert and placed on a cold and windy prairie with a lot of stinky cows.
At age 12, I learned to drive a 2-ton pick-up truck, herd cattle, throw bales of hay, milk cows (with machinery), shovel manure, and bottle feed baby cows. While I resented the disruption to my pre-teen life, upon reflection I realize my core values were being instantiated during this period of my life. I witnessed tireless physical labor on the part of my parents and relatives, self-sacrifice, and love of family. Their legacy will never leave me.
Touring Wyoming this July, including what remains of our old dairy, has reminded me of my roots, refreshed by visits with family and time for reflection. One day while on our bikes, we rode by beautiful sunflowers blooming on the side of the roads and billowing wheat fields, and they reminded me of some of life’s lessons:
- Bloom where you are Planted. In Wyoming, sunflowers grow by the gravel roadside, having been spread by birds, and manage to thrive on the edges of fields, outside the reach of irrigation. They remind me to draw nutrients / inspiration from my environment and grow wherever I am.
- Always Face the Sun: Look to the light – God – for your source of inspiration and fuel; seek and choose JOY.
- Embrace the clouds and rain – they provide growth, nourish our roots, and help us appreciate the sun.
- Be strong and flexible (but unbreakable) – With deep roots, we can be both.
And most importantly for me: Remember your Roots. Being in this state has been a homecoming in many ways for me – spending time with family, visiting our old dairy, and being awed by the rugged beauty from one side of the state to the other. Part of my heart will always be here. From here….. to here.