As I waited for the passengers to board my flight home, my inbox delivered an article on stillness and its benefits…and the ways that we avoid stillness…by using our devices (to read that article, ironically enough) and keeping ourselves busy, busy, busy.
This weekend has been a nice exercise in stillness for me. Somehow, with my camera in my hand, I find myself watching and waiting, listening to my own breath and noticing nature’s breath too (even in the city). There’s so much around me that I don’t capture in photos, but because I am looking for interesting photos, I notice. (I have written about this idea before here.)
A hike yesterday took us out in the rain and wind into a park in Seattle. Not quite knowing where we were going, we headed out for a shore hike hoping to catch a glimpse of a lighthouse way out on a point of land that we couldn’t drive to. The wind and rain made me zip my jacket up to my chin and tuck my camera inside my coat for a while. Bare trees swayed, rubbing branches against branches, creaking and groaning. Most seemed to flex, but there was also evidence of breakage along the way. We made our way down some steep twists and turns and were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of that elusive lighthouse. Knowing we’d have to climb back up however far we went down kept us from going all the way to the bottom for a closer view.
We got back to a trail that would loop us back toward our car and continued to listen to the wind, feel drops of rain bounce off our hoods, and notice winter’s rainy splendor of leave littered ground, bare branches, and evergreens shaking off some excess water drops. Geoff’s eagle eye spotted a bright yellow mushroom and some local hikers were amused as we squatted low to the ground to photograph this beauty.
Earlier in the day, as we left Port Angeles, we took a bit of a side trip out to the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge. Alone in the stillness, we noticed how weather batters the trees and cliffs and off in the distance we could see the mountains we had climbed the day before wrapped in fog.
We headed into the city center of Bainbridge Island to find a place to relax with a cup of coffee and check in for today’s flight home. Even in the bustle of the coffee shop, I found a bit of stillness as I watched people, sipped coffee and nibbled on a crispy ginger cookie. My mind felt relaxed, not racing ahead to the next thing that needed to be done. We wandered around the island a bit, finding a walking trail around the marina, watching sea birds glide on the currents as everyone else seemed to be hunkered down in preparation for the big game. Seattle Seahawks were playing the Green Bay Packers for the divisional title…at home. We tried to time our arrival in Seattle for after the game had begun.
As we waited for the ferry, parked in our rental car, the rain poured down, creating a little bubble of solitude around us. I noticed the bright yellow slickers and tall rubber boots that must be the uniform for ferry workers…having the right kind of clothes for the weather makes all the difference!
The rain stopped right before we drove onto the ferry, and once parked, we headed up onto the viewing decks. While it was warm and cozy with lots of comfy chairs inside, I feel better outside on a boat…and the picture taking is better there too! We found a spot under an overhang, with a bit of protection from the wind where we could watch Seattle come into view. The whistling wind sounded almost like native American flutes in the distance, welcoming us to the city.
We checked into the hotel just as the football game went into overtime and by the time we were on the 14th floor, we could hear the roar that signaled that the Seahawks had won! Horns honked, people danced in the streets dressed in blue and green waving flags with a 12 on them (the city is clearly part of the team…the 12th member on the field at all times!). As we walked down to our favorite doughnut and coffee place a couple of blocks away, we could feel the camaraderie of the city, gathering together to celebrate this win that almost didn’t happen.
Strangers chatted and re-hashed the game as we navigated the powdered sugar and dripping jelly of the most delicious doughnuts…and even better coffee. There is stillness even in the hustle and bustle of the city, if you stop to find it.
And we went to sleep to an amazing view of the Space Needle from the window in our room, knowing we would make one more trip to Top Pot in the morning to gorge on doughnuts and coffee before heading to the airport.
And after reading that article as people boarded the plane this morning, I gazed out the window, lost in my thoughts, watching planes coming and going, thinking about stillness. I’m grateful for a weekend of stillness, of quiet and reflection, and for the opportunity to spend time just being…with someone I love.
I’ll be looking for some moments of stillness to squeeze into my everyday life…and remind myself not to turn to my devices to fill that precious down time.