After a month of sitting still back in my last little town I hit the road again. It’s always such an adjustment for me, either way staying or going . I don’t know how to sit still when I’m in one place for too long, but it’s hard for me to keep up the productivity when I’m traveling. I’ve dedicated myself to concentrating on the other side of my life, the side that all happens right here in front of this keyboard. I’ve been trying to make myself take work days where I just sit in the little office in the back of my truck editing photos and writing. It’s something that hasn’t come easy for me, I’m so used to being outdoors looking for photos or just driving… I don’t know if people actually realize how much driving is involved in taking this slow beast back and forth across America.
I lost my wallet, drivers license, credit cards, etc in Death Valley a couple days ago. I was genuinely shocked at how much it messed me up, I really wasn’t prepared to have my “identity” yanked out from under me like that. The experience made me think about how fragile my life still is. What would happen if I was pulled over? Would the police help me or arrest me, I didn’t know. It didn’t help that I was in South Inyo/Mohave county California either, it is about the place on earth that I would want to be in jail.
It started me thinking about the systems that we are required to partake in, no matter how far we try to remove our selves from them. I lost a tiny leather pouch full of plastic. Plastic that supposedly proves that I am who I say I am and other plastic that shows my good standing in society and ability to make purchases. Honestly, it all made me feel like my implied worth was bogus. I wasn’t prepared to feel so momentarily lost and afraid. I think that a part of my unease came from the fact that I had lost anything to begin with, most everything in my life is almost always within reach. It also made me think about the value of this little moving house to has to me, everything in my life is in here.
I’ve spent close to two years thinking that I was changing myself into a truly unbreakable thing. In a lot of ways, I guess I have. I’ve spent plenty of time being scared of an uncertain future, just like everyone. I thought that if I really just poured myself into uncertainty I would learn to move with the fluid of the river. I thought that if I spent the majority of my time alone, being alone wouldn’t be so daunting. I thought that if I simplified my existence down into one little mobile box of necessities, then I would never be without the things I need. I was almost entirely right.
The thing that I do when my brain isn’t one hundred percent is stay busy, I’ve been working hard to change busy to productive, with varying results. I often feel off, for whatever reason. Personal things within and beyond my control, cultural and environmental things that hint to my brain that we are all doomed and I’d better run for the mountains/drive off a cliff as soon as possible. Mostly I take photos. By the thousands. It’s not until I take the time to go back and look through them that my mind starts to ease a bit. I’m reminded that things are beautiful and worth fighting for and working towards.
At the end of it all I decided that I was who I was regardless of my little identifiers and that I would address any issues that came up the same way that I try to address all of the little distractions in my life, with calm focus. I allowed myself a day to feel bummed that I had lost my stuff and messed up, but decided that when I woke up the next day it would be back to normal wallet or not.
I drove hard out of the desert with that little storm cloud over my head, but when I woke up in Big Sur the next morning next to the beautiful Pacific Ocean everything had realigned and I was back to center.
I’m only now starting to realize that only when I sit down can I apply the value that all my movement deserves. It’s now when I am out taking photos that I can see what they are, in the moment I’m only trying to get that one little thing that I know I’ll never see again. It’s easy to glide through that moment and let it go. When I sit and see it, for the first time as an observer not a participant I can absorb the value of it being something that I’ve done, something I’ve accomplished. It feels so good to be back in my element, right now at least I feel like I am exactly where I need to be.
I know this might not be a masterpiece, but I’ve always wanted to see these. The Sailing Stones in Death Valley, what a truly remarkable place.
And lastly, a couple of pictures of my sweet little house, looking beautiful. Onward and upward.
Please remember to reach out! I would love to hear from you. If there’s a spot you think I should check out, you’d like to spend an afternoon shooting photos or just want to chat, post a comment here or send me a message on Facebook. Oh, and please follow me on Twitter and Instagram @roadlyfe to stay in the loop! You can also email me at email@example.com.
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All words and images © Adam Smith 2016.