This is Moose.
OK, he is not actually a bear, but it took me a minute to make sense of his size when I first encountered him. This was not my first time meeting a Bouvier de Flanders (a very formal name for the very bearish moose to be sure). I have loved them since I first laid eyes on one…years and years ago.
As Tina finished getting ready to go to breakfast that first morning in Wimberley, I took my camera outside to see what worked in my baby photographer’s eye. I thought that surely this place would make me feel like a brilliant photographer. Surely here I could just swing the camera around and capture magic in every image. Ha.
Magic was there, though. Only not in my lens. As I stepped off the front porch I saw the movement of something large and black behind the car. I froze…not in fear, but curiosity. How was it possible that a bear cub was here? A black bear cub, no less. In Wimberley? Then a very timid Moose peeked out from behind and I fell in love.
Clearly unaware of his impressive size, Moose timidly approached me as if it were me that was all muscle, teeth and black eyes peering from behind mounds of hair. When I reached out to pet him, he backed up as if I would strike him. In my eagerness I had forgotten the dog-approach rules. No eye contact…let them smell you first…no smiling (showing teeth)…raise hand, palm up, to nose for approval. When he approached again, I was ready. We became fast friends.
In fairness to Moose, who is a gentle soul, the picture above was taken as Moose played by the creek. He followed me and Tina down as we strolled down to sit in chairs and listen to the wind. Moose played in the water and ran around and around like a wild thing. I took many pictures. This is one of my faves because it is so out of character. The dog in this picture would scare the hell out of Moose. My skills at photography were quite challenged by moose. He is so dark that many pictures ended up looking like a mass of fur. The best pictures I got were with him playing with Tina.
Tina said at one point that, in order to get into my pictures that weekend, she had to be standing next to Moose. And, while it is true that I was just a little obsessed with this gorgeous dog, I took lots of pictures of her as well.
Tina slept in the seat next to me as we hit the outer limits of Katy, Texas. We were on our way out, not in, and I was already beginning to feel the muscles around my jaw loosen…my breathing become deeper. I propped my left foot up against the dashboard defiantly…I was raised by a southern belle, this is just not the way a lady sits. Today, I am more than just a lady. I am a fugitive from the city.
Miles and miles of billboards and exits for small towns. I try to find things to take pictures of, but there is no reason to stop along I-10. Not right now anyway. We are almost to San Antonio when we pull off the freeway (I never call it freeway when I am in town), and onto to the road that will pull us toward Luling and slingshot us to Wimberley.
The road to Wimberley appeals to my newly forming photographer’s eye…but I don’t stop. I don’t stop for the huge dark hawk circling close to an infinite field of perfectly yellow tall grass. I don’t stop for tall, beige willowy reeds, at least twice my height, lining the side of the road…poised to be shot from below into a perfectly blue clouded sky. I don’t stop for the abandoned house with old tin signs that mark it as a business from long ago. I will catch these shots on our way back. I am not stopping before I have pulled off onto that gravel road that leads to our “middle of nowhere.”
When we arrive, the now familiar little cabin on the river seems impossibly welcoming. I always expect it to disappoint the wildly high expectations I have of it…and it never does. I pile my arms full of everything we need to bring inside, because I know I am not walking back out to the car now. I know what happens when I walk through that door.
And it does. Just as it does every time. My body feels the exhaustion of a thousand days of sleep that feels carved out of something else I should be doing. There is nothing waiting to be done here, and I fall helplessly into the bed, barely able to remove my earrings so that the pinch of them will not wake me from my perfect nap. I never realize how tired I am until I get here.
My eyes close on the dark wood walls and now shuttered windows (thank you, Tina), and I drift off slowly…savoring the feel of arms around me and the walk to the little creek waiting for me to have rested enough.
Almost a year ago, Tina and I had just returned from our latest trip to the desert. I was preparing mentally for surgery and the weeks following when I would be on “bed rest.” It was a strange time for us, to be sure. And into the mix came Mondo Beyondo.
Mondo Beyondo is an online course in dreaming big. Over five weeks, Jen Lemen and Andrea Scher walked us, and 300 others, through the process of reawakening the parts of us that imagine amazing lives full of adventure and rewards. For five weeks, we focused on what is possible, as opposed to what is probable.
Something shifted for me during that class and the past year has been a wild ride. At least internally.
It never occurred to me to go through this exercise with the kids for some reason until Jen suggested it to us recently. She gave us the process and we sat down with our kids this past weekend and had them make their own list of the possible, not probable.
Here they are making their lists.
The results were stunning.
I promised them I would not share them with anyone without asking, but trust me…they have some really cool stuff on them. I shared some of my list with them too. So did Tina.
Our conversations have changed as a result. I am regularly finding myself in discussions with them now about cool things they want to do. And not things like “Go to Disney World” (which was noticeably absent from all three lists). More adventurous things like travel to exotic and remote locales and adrenaline rush type of physical activities. I am finding out more about them every day. And man, they are cool.
I am hoping all their Mondo Beyondo dreams come true. In any case, we are dreaming into our future together. And it feels better that way.
P.S. If you have not taken Mondo Beyondo already, get on it. For 99 bucks you can find out for yourself what big dreams are lurking in your heart.
What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
I have been thinking about this a lot over the past year. Its funny how I clear I am about how long I have been thinking about that actually. It is tempting to say I have been thinking about this my whole life…but I know now that I haven’t. I have been so focused on what I want within what I think are my limitations that I have somehow lost my ability to dream big. I don’t even know when I stopped dreaming really big, but I do know it was before high school. I was pretty “realistic” about my dreaming by that time. The messaging in our culture is so focused on plugging away and then retiring that we don’t even realize that this dream does not really fit all of us. We have invested ourselves in pursuit of watered-down version of a dream older than our Grandparents. Or at least from a time when “plugging away” and then retiring meant security, or some semblance of it.
There is something freeing about letting go of the myth of security. Letting go of the thinking that, if we plan well enough, invest well enough and save well enough…we will be safe. There are still people now who are retiring comfortably, but there are more stories every day of people who had that in their plans and are not able to retire…at least not comfortably, whatever that means.
Lifting my head from this myth has made me realize that “safe” was never really all that inspiring to me. There is no adventure in that. And, as I look at my safe-seeking kids, I realize that I have been modeling, by example, that comfort is more important than adventure or taking risks.
Erica Jong famously said, “And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” I believe this in my heart. But I have not been living it as much as I would like.
I am glad my kids want to be safe, it is somehow in their nature. But I want them to know that they have access to more, should they want it. I want them to, at least occasionally, want something so passionately that they are willing to close their eyes and take that leap into the unknown. I don’t want them to think that their dream is safety.