I went on a short camping trip with my father last week in the Texas Hill Country. Many of the pictures that I came back with contained reflections of nature in water. My plan was to catch a grand picture encompassing the raw beauty from a hilltop vista, looking down on a valley. I did find this picture. In fact, the giant vista panorama was impressive, but it paled when I compared it to those of the tranquility of the Frio River.
Looking at these pictures now is a rejuvenating experience for me. We enjoyed three days of near perfect weather, with temperate days and cool nights, a full moon, and few clouds in a clear blue sky. Normally, I prefer to have clouds in the sky when taking pictures because they give some interesting drama and color. It seemed right to take reflective shots with the absence of any clouds. We talked about life, about camping, and about normal stuff like coffee, cigars, and how to properly sleep in near freezing weather. It was a great getaway camping trip – and I hope that my father enjoyed it as much as I did.
But the real question remains unanswered after three days in the wilderness. Do you have any knowledge in your noodle? If you do, then you know that when you climb the hill at Lost Maples State Natural Area – you have to think that it’s possible to actually reach the top. Alive. Carrying a heavy tripod with a camera will make you question your sanity. But, I had faith. Reaching the top is an achievement – alive and breathing also worked for me. I remember as a young Marine that I could climb hills like a mountain goat. Add a few pounds and wear a wounded leg where each step hurts and shoots a pain from additional fluid pressure inside. “It’s okay,” I told myself – I’ll just sleep with my leg elevated during the night and the swelling will go away. The shot will be worth it.
Later, you question your sanity again as you remove your shoes, stuff your socks into the toe of the shoe, tie them together and hang them over your shoulder. Your sanity is further questioned as you fold up the bottom of your jeans, and then pull your jeans up to your knees and then wade into the middle of a Guadalupe River so you can “get the perspective.” You’re nuts. Is there any cheese on your enchilada plate? Does the elevator stop at the top floor? “It’s okay,” I told myself. I’ll just put my leg up later and the swelling with go away. The shot will be worth it.
So, if you see me standing on the side of the road walking along with my tripod over my shoulder – there is a reason. I’m trying to balance myself. Really. There is a little wiggle in my waddle as I move along down the path. It’s slight most of the time – but when my foot is swollen and I have a mask on my face behind my smile, I’m likely looking for someplace to rest. If I sit and find something and lift my leg up – that’s the clue.
Looking back at the adventure of last week, I’m reminded that the life we have today is as a poor reflection in a mirror, because someday our knowledge will be full. So, when I’m looking at these pictures that have reflections in them – I wonder about these things in life, and the temporary conditions that allow us to learn the lessons we need.
The virtues that I seek and aspire to know are patience, kindness, humble service, consideration, slowness of anger, forgiving without memory, without malice or vengeance – but with compassionate protection for innocence and truth, trusting, hopeful and faithful. I will continue along this path – walking with a little wiggle in my waddle as I make my way ahead. As I look upon the poor reflection in the mirror, I will seek to know fully what remains. That’s the journey of my life.