Honoring Our Layers

I’m beginning to realize something. Life everywhere exists in layers.

Layers of rock and hardened lava beneath our feet. Layers of color in a dancing autumn leaf. Layers of fur in an animal’s shedding coat. Layers of emotion in our outlook on the universe.

Everywhere I look, there are layers of beauty — countless layers of vibrant beauty in the lakes, the forests, and the atmosphere. I know, too, there are also layers of hardship. These layers often contain a hidden past, a lost purpose, or a deep transformation. Sometimes, layers even hide the signs of earth-shattering adversity.

A Labyrinth of Layers

Looking inward, who I am has become a kaleidoscope of emotional hues — a labyrinth of complicated layers. So many layers, in fact, I imagine it’s difficult for many people to understand.

My walk through life began with a troubled upbringing, slowed with the grief of devastating loss, struggled in a fading romance, and took an entirely different direction than what I’d envisioned. In my 30s, I already have regrets that tug at the inner chambers of my heart, causing physical pain to rise in my chest. In 2018, I even experienced three panic attacks, for the first time, nearly choking as I tried to remember to breathe. Luckily, I haven’t had a panic attack this year.

Despite all of this, I also smile, laugh, and fall to my knees in awe, because I have found so much joy.

The path I walk now is one of creativity and awe. Most days, I move easily through the invigorating air, cherishing the sound of the boots that warm my toes, eager to explore whatever waits ahead. Especially during my leisure time.

Week in and week out, I’m uplifted and amazed by the individuals I meet, the destinations I discover, the natural phenomena I witness, and the opportunities that keep presenting themselves.

When It All Piles Up

Sure, life has left me wanting. The last few years have been so extraordinarily difficult, I wrestled with questions of what to write in this blog.

What could I possibly share that wouldn’t be too hard on people, and how could I possibly put a positive spin on recent events? What many people don’t know is that my travels of late have been a desperate attempt to heal, to remain standing after taking another powerful blow. I may not own a home, or have children of my own, or even know where to go on my favorite holidays this year, but that doesn’t matter much to me.

In a broader light, I am very fortunate. Most days, I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been to experience so much, and to make so many meaningful connections along the way.

Over the course of my adventures this year, I have been challenged, moved, and inspired. I’ve been forced to take stock of my life, gather what I have of value, and put it in a pile on the couch. Often what I value are not material things. So instead, I stand there trying to decide what is worth pursuing and what is better left in the dust.

Still, layers of emotion belong to everything I own — every painting, every piece of writing, every photograph. Just as countless layers exist within me.

Honoring Our Layers

With encouragement from nature, I’ve learned to honor my layers. To move through the fluid layers, swimming with all my strength. To stand upon the solid layers, letting immoveable objects lie. To soar through the gaseous layers, climbing to unimaginable heights.

Some layers are exposed on the cliff wall, and others are hidden in the depths of the earth. Some layers carry insight we are thrilled to share, and others harbor our deepest fears. Some layers reveal rare vitality, and other layers show painful decay.

Like the nature that surrounds us, the variety in these layers are what make us unique. So, let’s honor our layers, however we can.

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