The Obstacle Is the Path

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Just got back yesterday morning from my second California visit so far this year. I had thought there would be a marked distinction between the two, one being a more professional visit for my art along with a personal bent since I was visiting close to my tribe’s territories and the other being a weekend fun trip with friends. Yes, there definitely were differences. And yet… I’ve come home with that same feeling, that same longing for a place. I look outside at the familiar landscape I’ve grown up with, and it suddenly seems foreign. Am I breaking up with Seattle at long last? If so, it will be a long process. But if I could, I would move down to California in a heartbeat to live near the ocean. Anywhere from Monterey or farther north up to Crescent City.

I know this restlessness will fade with time as I slip back into my “real” life. But I don’t think the longing for place will. I just loved being somewhere where I felt like I was myself. I loved our brief time in the city in San Francisco, but it wasn’t there. It was when we started driving down the coast to Santa Cruz. There’s a picture I took of myself when we stopped at a beach and a friend commented yesterday that she loved that photo because I look so happy. Probably uncharacteristically so. I was sitting with her for a couple of hours at the beach at Lincoln Park in West Seattle where we both live. Luckily, the sun was out to help make the transition home easier. It was stunning: the sun shining, the lightly choppy water, the Olympic mountains in the distance covered with snow, ferries passing by and docking to our left on a regular basis, everybody out walking with their kids and dogs. Normally I would have been in heaven, but yesterday it felt like faded photocopy of where I had just been.

When we were in Santa Cruz on Sunday walking along the cliffs north of the main beach, we had all paused at the railing to stare at the water below. I glanced over and noticed that one of my friends was standing directly in front of a sentence scrawled in black marker on the rail. It said, “The obstacle is the path.

This time, I wanted to write about my visit before it faded too much. My visit to Arcata and the Klamath River were so significant and intensely personal, but it was challenging to get back into the moment and write about it. This visit feels even more ephemeral and I wanted to write about it before I start doing all those things-that-must-be-done today and then go back to work tomorrow. But for a few more minutes, before I start my tasks, I will bask in the memories of place, reconnecting with friends, making new friends, and feeling like I was my true self.

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