Traveling south down the long, lean line of Baja California,
with the Gulf of California and the mainland of Mexico in sight on the left.
Last week I flew away to Mexico and spent five lovely days of pure, unadulterated leisure. I stayed with my two elder daughters at a resort in Cabo San Lucas, at the southern tip of Baja California, where the closest body of land to the south is Antarctica.
I had never been to a proper resort before, where all your needs are laid out before you, and nothing more is required than to lean back and enjoy. Quite a different experience than my recent international cultural immersion adventures, or the golden days of road tripping across the country with four children and assorted pets in a minivan.
I will confess that I struggled at first. Doing nothing is an acquired skill, and I had to make a concentrated effort to let go of all the things I could do - surfing! parasailing! painting ceramic bowls! - to embrace the fine art of sitting still.
And so I sat.
Golden squiggles mark the paths of dry riverbeds, a sure sign of desert terrain.
As if the never-ending brown landscape left any doubt.
Well. Technically, I did a lot of lying. On my chaise lounge.
And on my floaty as I drifted around the pool.
I allowed myself to take a lot of pictures, and to play at the beach.
And to eat fish tacos every day.
But that was about it.
And you know what? An amazing thing happened.
Little islands litter the eastern coastline.
And all I can think is that this is where grey whales come to have their babies.
I found myself not filling up with new ideas, new experiences, new plans, as I usually do on vacation.
I found myself emptying out.
All of the priorities and principles and pressing needs of my day-to-day life gently subsided.
I didn't forget about them. I just let them sit with me.
And then, at then end of my trip, I realized that I now had a choice.
I could pick all those things back up and carry them home to keep on with my life as usual
Or I could let some things go.
And that's what I did.
Back home again.
As we descended through the marine layers over good ol' Seattle,
the Olympic Mountains showed as a row of smiling teeth in the west.
I gathered up some of the fears, stresses, anxieties, and troubles that just don't suit me anymore, and I cast them off like so many messages in a bottle into the refreshing waters of the Sea of Cortez. They were floating off into the horizon as I turned and walked away. Next stop: the South Pole.
Since I've been home, I've been tempted - probably more from habit that desire - to pick those troublesome thoughts and emotions back up. But every time I do, I see in my mind's eye those imaginary glass bottles bobbing up and down in the water. They've surely been swept out into the wide open Pacific by now, and while I hope to never see them again, I certainly wish them well.