I know nothing. That’s one thing I know for sure.
Today I completed my first week of a four-week retreat in Santa Fe and since I’ve been here, I’ve seen wonders I was never even aware of. I’ve talked about real estate without end, and I’ve been to Wholefoods, and what I know is that I know nothing.
I like to come to this blog with something to share that might help move us both towards enlightenment, or at least a dawning awareness of inner calm. Today what I can share is that this state of unfamiliarity heightens my sense of curiosity. I’m open to being amazed. In my day to day life at home, there aren’t many complete unpredictables. I can be delighted most days - I enjoy time with my steady gal pals and adore my children and our patchwork fam. But, ya know, it’s all pretty familiar.
I know my world, just like you know yours. I’ve always got my to-do list, and I have a general sense of who will populate my days. When I spend time outdoors, as much as I find the woods endlessly fascinating, I pretty much know what to expect. I know the aisles of the grocery store where I am a regular. I know my neighborhood, my city, and my state pretty well. Certainly, I can be surprised, but I am generally familiar with our local politics and the players and issues.
Here in New Mexico, the only thing familiar to me is myself, and the special friendships that have called me back here.
First, it’s sunny every day. Every. Day. I never feel guilty because I’m doing something indoors on a beauty day because literally, tomorrow will be just as nice. I have never actually lived in a place that had count-on-able outdoor weather and I can’t deny it, it’s pretty wonderful. It’s also very, very dry - there hasn’t been rain here since the beginning of October! So, I have to take care of myself in new ways - obviously drinking lots of water, but also, I now know how to moisturize the inside of my nose. There, I said it. I know it’s weird, but when you follow me to New Mexico, you’ll be glad I told you.
Every time I hike here, I find myself looking out over yet another vista and I can literally see for miles upon miles. Today, I looked down to our starting point from high above where we’d started and wondered why we couldn’t see any people, then realized that people would almost be unseeable with my bare naked eyes because they are sooooo far away. I love the spacious feeling inside me when I can see for great distances. There’s a sense of peace that comes over me. I think that there is some brain science at work with that sense of peace. I don’t know, but I’ll bet that my fearful amygdala is calmed by the ability to see what’s coming from far, far away.
As for the wonders, my sweetheart joined me here for my first week and we took a trip four hours south to the White Sands National Park. Friend, I visited 275 square miles of white gypsum sand with almost nothing growing or living inside. Visually, imagine, as far as you can see there’s just miles and miles of melting slopes of vanilla ice cream. Gypsum sand is cool to the touch, so I walked barefoot on a cloudless sunny day, without burning my feet! There is a feeling of purity and freedom and safety all rolled up into one sensation while spending all day in this environment - because I could run with childlike abandon and know with certainty that no one could sneak up on me. And while there were thousands of footprints, once we were past the one-mile marker, we barely saw a soul for the rest of our five-mile hike. The sky after sunset was the palest rosey pink and barely blue fading into white. Against the white dunes, the effect was surreal. As the sky quickly darkened I was aware that only the next marker was visible as we approached each successive marker. With the darkness, my sense of abandon quickly morphed to intense respect for the fact that I was merely a guest in this place.
On the same trip, we stopped in at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge and witnessed the spectacle of migration first hand. By complete luck, we happened to be in New Mexico for the arrival of up to 50,000 snow geese and up to 17,000 sand cranes to their overwintering spot in the wetlands in the Rio Grande valley. There were so many intense birding photographers, but the birds seemed to be completely oblivious to our fascination. I hike a fair amount, but it’s rare to be in the right place at the right time and have the opportunity to be a curious interloper in the ways of wildlife.
I welcome this change of scenery but I notice that it shakes me up a bit, in a good way. I like getting out of my comfort zone and realizing that familiarity is not all it’s cracked up to be. For me, Whole Foods is sort of like a Super Walmart compared to my little neighborhood coop. These mountains are bigger and the valleys are much wider. I don’t know the trees and birds. I am small here. There is much to contemplate.
If familiarity breeds contempt, then perhaps strangeness lends itself to wonder.
If you’d like a little more wonder in your life, then consider joining us for our destination retreat in Costa Rica, for women just like you.