The element of surprise

Oil Creek State Park, Pennsylvania.


As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens.

~ Stephen Graham, The Gentle Art of Tramping, 1926

I have participated in the original, official NaBloPoMo since November of 2006.  It was, in a way, a lifeline for me.  It was through that first NaBloPoMo that I began to experience a sense of community in what I think of as the outer blogosphere.  (I had previously been blogging for years under a pseudonym in a more closed space with a smaller community.)  I was going to need my new blogmates and this sense of being in touch with the outer world beginning the following month when M and I made a temporary move to West Chester, Pennsylvania (a town I referred to as Sabbaticalville while we were living there).

Hike & bike trail. Oil Creek State Park

I went back, for the first time since I started blogging in this format, to look at my first NaBloPoMo post.  I’d forgotten how bad things were with me.  The pain.  The depression that I didn’t truly recognize as depression for the longest time (something I finally came to realize during an early Thanksgiving).  I did have to laugh, though, at this sentence in my first NaBloPoMo post:

I’ve been yelling at the political ads on television.

Ha! Ha!  Some things never change.  Well, that’s not true.  I don’t yell at the political ads anymore.  In fact, as part of my meditation goal, I’ve been practicing metta (or lovingkindness) whenever a commercial comes on for someone I don’t support.  It calms some of the anger the negative ads tend to dredge up.

Following a path from the past. (Oil Creek State Park.)

The move to West Chester/Sabbaticalville in December 2006 was not what I had planned it to be.  In the year leading up to the move, I made plans to continue working while living in Sabbaticalville, which would allow me to make some friends or at least socialize a little.  You know what they say about the best laid plans.  It didn’t work out that way.  Instead, I spent most days of the first few months on my own in our apartment overlooking the heart of West Chester, crippled up with pain.  All the walks I wanted to take in order to get to know our new neighborhood had to wait.  I could barely make it around the block, and some days I couldn’t even do that.  What I could do, and what I did do, was learn to take care of myself so that I could heal.

I’m going to stop captioning these now unless something appropriate comes to mind or I switch gears and go someplace other than Oil Creek State Park in mid-October.

If you visit any of those old blog posts from my first NaBloPoMo, you’ll find more words and fewer images.  I started out more interested in writing than in photography.  A little more than a week into NaBloPoMo, I quit my job sooner than planned or expected.  My employer sort of forced my hand on that one by treating me poorly when they needed me most.  Funny how even then I was circumspect in my writing.  I could have ranted about that whole debacle.  I didn’t.

Anarchy on the bridge.

I also participated in my first Art Attack challenge that month.  Working on a collage for the challenge, I learned that art could be healing.  That may have been a turning point for me, where I moved from words to images.  Soulspace, the second Art Attack challenge I did, brought me back to words and images.  Body wisdom taught me a little about the pain I was experiencing.

Skimming through those old posts, I found a lot of my favorite quotes, quotes that even now still have an effect on me, like the one in this post about our last boat ride of the season.

One of my favorite posts (second to A joyful heart) is this one.  It was while rereading this post that I made my decision not to participate in NaBloPoMo this year.

Bet you didn’t see that one coming.  Or maybe you did…?  I might be more predictable than I like to think I am.

I’m thinking of it as unblogging.  The first NaBloPoMo I participated in taught me how to blog on a daily basis (and if you had the time and inclination to explore the November 2006 archives, you might have noticed that there were many days in which I blogged more than once a day).  I believe that makes this year’s NaBloPoMo a good time for me to reverse the process.  I will start slow, getting caught up with the comments on my own blog and repaying some of your visits.  If I have a good idea for a post, I’ll post.  Otherwise, I’m going to be withdrawing a little at a time so I can spend more time outdoors, in meditation, practicing yoga, going within, and working on some other projects when I’ve had enough of contemplating life, the universe, and everything.

Lately I’ve felt as though my posts have been forced, done purely for the sake of posting rather than any real desire to say something in words or images.  There’s nothing wrong with practice if it’s leading somewhere.  I don’t think it’s been leading anywhere for a while now.

It’s time to cross that bridge I’ve come to

As far as addictions go, blogging is not as bad as some.  It’s opened up the world to me, teaching me not only about others and how they live, but about myself as well.  I’ve met a lot of people through blogging some of whom are still blogging regularly.  Some folks take long breaks and come back to it (usually around the time of NaBloPoMo).  Some have shut down their old blogs and started new ones, while others moved on to Facebook or Twitter as their means of social networking.  Some have just up and disappeared, leaving me (and others) wondering what happened and are they okay.

Let’s go see what’s on the other side.

But for all the good it’s done, I also feel as if I’m hiding behind blogging lately and that, my friends, is no way to live life.

Adventures await!

I learned early that the richness of life is found in adventure.  Adventure calls on all the faculties of  mind and spirit.  It develops self-reliance and independence.  Life then teems with excitement.  But man is not ready for adventure unless he is rid of fear.  For fear confines him and limits his scope.  He stays tethered by strings of doubt and indecision and has only a small and narrow world to explore.

~ William O. Douglas, Of Men and Mountains, 1950

Thanks for coming along on this rather long ramble through the past with a glimpse at the present and the future.  I’m not leaving.  I’m just going to slowly unravel the web I’ve been working on for years.  It’s time to take it down and start a new one.  Or, if you’d prefer another metaphor, it’s time to look for “the door that does not look like a door.”

Dancing in the sunlight

I’ll see you when I see you.  Be good, be kind, be loving, just Be.

P.S.  We had our first snowflakes of the season today.  Yay!

See the white streaks in the background? That’s snow. 🙂

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54 Comments on “The element of surprise”

  1. Gracie says:

    Good luck, Robin. I enjoyed every bit of the journey with you. May you find great adventures on the other side of that “bridge” 🙂

  2. I love any picture of a loved bike on a ride that I could take some day. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      You would love the bike trails over that way, Colleen. The Allegheny River & Samuel Justus Trails especially, because they include tunnels and railroad bridges. Fun stuff. 🙂

      • I love “fun stuff”. Husband has been on the trail from Penn. to Washington DC (and I’ve been on part of it) but I think the trails you show are trails we have not been to. I can’t wait until we do.

  3. Loved the stroll down thoughts and pixs. Nice idea the door that doesn’t look like a door – always good to think that way.
    I’ve been amazed how anyone is able to keep up a high quality blog with pictures and comments – every day and stay sane – not to mention having a life.
    Not good to disappear into the screen.
    Nothing wrong with reevaluating or testing other waters – who knows what’s to discover?
    So see ya’ when I see ya’ – and have fun on the Great Adventure!

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, PhilosopherMouse. 🙂

      It amazes me, too, the way some people manage to keep up on a daily basis, whether they’re churning out high quality blogs or not. It takes an enormous amount of time and, as you mentioned, it’s not good to disappear into the screen. There’s too much life for that. 😀

  4. Great post—words as well as photos!

  5. Karma says:

    Eek on the snowflakes, lol! This was a very interesting blog post. I clicked back and read the Sunday Scribblings post from 2006. That one resonated with me. It is so easy to get stuck in a routine and feel like you aren’t living your own life. Maybe it has something to do with being a 40-something and looking both back and forward at life.

    • Karma says:

      Hey I just noticed you changed your feet! 😉

      • Robin says:

        lol! Glad you noticed, Karma. I got new shoes yesterday. 😀

        More snowflakes flying around here today. Just flurries, though, and nothing that will stick yet. We usually have our first snow by Halloween so it was a little late this year.

        I do think age makes us look back and forth to try to evaluate where we are and where we’re going. When I was younger, life was too busy to contemplate. I was raising my children, working, taking care of family and home, and all that good stuff. Now I have more time to think about what I’m doing and where I’m going. Sometimes I think that ought to be reversed. It would have been nice to be retired when I was younger and had more energy to do things. lol!

  6. 😀 “Be good, be kind, be loving, just Be.” 😀 Robin, that is just beautiful.
    Sometimes stepping back and doing what you’re going to do….. “spend more time outdoors, in meditation, practicing yoga, going within, and working on some other projects when I’ve had enough of contemplating life, the universe, and everything.”… leads to a very special transformation…I sense that will be happening. And one never knows whether or in what manner that might be expressed… so many possibilities! Change can be energizing, inspirational and wonderful!

  7. Be good, be kind, be loving, just Be. This is where the journey has brought you and what a place of being it is! Walk in beauty, dear one.

  8. artsifrtsy says:

    Beautiful as always – be well.

  9. I can understand your withdrawal from blogging. I did the daily blog for two years and realized that I, too, was missing too much of the outdoors and myself which is why I blog only once a week. I like your reflections here: the last boat ride quote, your most favorite blog (grandmother), your fondness of the blogging community. I have so enjoyed your walks and your beautiful photos–I always felt a peace after viewing your photos. They say a lot about a person. “Be good, be kind, be loving, just Be”–thank you for that. Buena suerte!

    • Robin says:

      Muchas gracias, Teresita. 🙂

      Once a week sounds reasonable to me. I’m thinking I may land somewhere around there eventually. Well, maybe twice a week, depending on what’s happening in my life.

  10. For real, this time? 😉
    Slow down, take time…Right now, I’m using the Daily as a way to organize the rest of my life, and it seems to be working. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that’s working…
    Have a great weekend, Robin. I’ll be here when you get back, waiting to share more adventures.

  11. A beautiful and thoughtful post, Robin, full of metaphors and symbolism. It sounds as if you are moving on through “the great door, that does not look like a door” – a wonderful quote, BTW. I selfishly hope that you will continue on in some form that works for you; I value the journeys that you share, including this one. I have seeking that great door myself lately, so your words and photos fall deeply for me.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Lynn. 🙂

      I’m not leaving. Just cutting back considerably here at Life in the Bogs. This blog morphed into something unexpected, and it was good for a while, but I feel as though it’s not the place for me to go where I would like to go. I’m already exploring other possibilities. We’ll see. 😀

  12. Kathy says:

    I know what you mean about hiding behind blogging, Robin. Sometimes I feel that way, too. Other times, not so much. I would have loved to have known you when you first started blogging. To compare the Robin of then and today. And then the Robin of tomorrow–who knows?–a mystery! The last couple of days I’ve been posting and leaving the commenting closed and have absolutely loved it! I feel like it’s more pure for a moment–just to let the creative side out without having the added bit about commenting. But it’s mostly just an effort to catch up. Can’t wait to see what we do next. We’re all unpredictable in the long-term. Maybe it’s just the short term that people can place bets?

    • Robin says:

      Maybe, Kathy. I realized when I was writing up this blog post that the person most surprised was me. Even as I was writing and linking to old posts, I thought I’d be participating in NaBloPoMo. It was almost a shock when I typed I wouldn’t be participating and would be taking a break instead.

      You always come up with great ideas.and experiments in blogging and handling comments. 🙂

  13. Joanne says:

    I tried the NaBloPoMo blogging every day idea a couple of years ago Robin, and while I enjoyed the writing and interaction with other bloggers, I found it dreadfully time consuming, so didn’t continue. I have times in my life (such as right now!) when I’m working every day and simply don’t have the time to write, or even read the blogs of my blogging friends. Yet somehow, I still manage to take around fifty photos every day….

    Your photos are brilliant Robin and I do enjoy hearing what you are up to. I’ve said it before, you are such an inspiration to me! I really believe that you are the person who inspired me to take photography more seriously, progressing from being an occasional hobby to the point where it has become an enjoyable daily ritual! Life is for living, and we can’t spend all day, every day, behind a computer screen…right? And you, my friend, are so full of life! I look forward to having occasional visits from you. 🙂

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Joanne. That’s such a lovely compliment. 🙂

      I know what you mean about managing to take about fifty photos every day. lol! That sounds like a normal day to me. 😉

  14. Chloe says:

    enjoy your down time & meditation 🙂

  15. Tammy says:

    Happy unblogging! I love your spider web.

  16. Fantastic photos, Robin! I very much enjoyed your story, too. I totally understand. I am not hiding behind blogging, but other things are holding me back and wasting my time. I need to take corrective action.

    I have never sensed that your posts might be forced – just the opposite – I always admire your way with words and photos. But only you can judge the proper frequency for blogging. I am sure I will enjoy your future posts as much as ever and probably treasure them even more.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you so much, Karen. 🙂 That’s good to know. Sometimes (too often, really) I look at one of my posts just before it goes out and think, “meh.” “Meh” is not a good thing to think. lol! It makes me think I could do better. Now that I’ve put that in writing, it occurs to me that I still haven’t let go of the dreaded perfectionism. I let go enough to go ahead and post even after I get the “meh,” but not enough so that I’m not thinking “meh.”

  17. Blessings to you, my friend, as you figure out what’s next. Just be!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

  18. Beautiful Fall shots! I wish you happiness in whatever you do next, and I’ll see you around whenever you decide to post :).

  19. aFrankAngle says:

    Pictures of the road during the fall season is fitting for any journey. One simply has to do what one must do. Meanwhile, take your time … be good … many are with you, …. and thank you!

    • Robin says:

      You’re welcome, Frank. And thank you. 🙂 I’m cutting back a little (no more daily posting). And maybe I’ll cut back a little more after that. We’ll see how it goes.

  20. jane tims says:

    Hi Robin. Don’t go away for too long… I love your posts. I started at once a day and gradually moved to three days a week. I like the discipline but there are days when I would like to be more flexible. I love the photo of the bicycle on the trail. Jane

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Jane. 🙂

      I didn’t go away at all, but just cut back a bit. I thought about a schedule, but have decided to post when I feel like posting which I think might be the best way for me.

  21. Val says:

    I know the feeling, Robin. I’m just catching up after about 10 days or so away from my blog, it was good and I’m having to make some more changes to get myself ‘back to myself’ so to speak.

    I adore your photos and if I were a traveller, I’d be over to your area in a shot at this time of year to see those trees and their wonderful show of colour. (And to see you!) 🙂

    • Robin says:

      Thank you, Val! Oh, you should come for the trees. And then to see me. lol! To be honest, I find it interesting that anyone would want to visit Ohio. Before I lived here, I never would have thought to want to visit this place. Hmmm… maybe the tourism people here should hire me. lol!!

  22. boatacrosstheriver says:

    Dear Robin —

    I want you to know that yours is pretty much the only blog that I go to these days! I hope you don’t antirely retire : )

    ALl the best.

    • Robin says:

      Thank you so much, BATR! That’s a lovely thing to say/write. I’m not retiring at all. Just adjusting. Or readjusting. There needs to be some balance here, and every now and then I get unbalanced and have to figure things out again. 🙂

  23. Coming East says:

    Oh, Robin, why do you live so far away? I want to put on a pot of tea and set out some cookies and have a long conversation with you. I’m glad you are taking time for yourself.

    • Robin says:

      Susan, I would love to have tea and cookies and a long conversation with you. I suppose that’s what part of blogging is all about, but it isn’t quite the same as face-to-face time, is it? 🙂

  24. Sallyann says:

    Stay safe. See you on the other side of the bridge. 🙂

  25. Marianne says:

    Thank you for sharing your personal journey with us, Robin. I think it helps to get to know the person behind the blog. I love to hear personal stories. I think it’s what connects all of us. Thanks for sharing, Robin. 🙂

  26. Dana says:

    Such a great and authentic post, Robin. Does it feel refreshing to declare the opposite intention of what even you were expecting? 🙂


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