Too Close for Comfort

How close is close?

Crazy man Dave Sipe of Mancos, Colorado once told us: if you really want to know if the person you are with is the right one, take them on a camping trip.

When you live in a 5′ x 9′ aluminum box with one other person while traveling across the country, it gets pretty close. When you have the opportunity to spread out at a friend’s or have the luxury of being part of an art residency for a few weeks it may feel like you have space, but the space in which we occupy is not what I’m talking about.

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The beautiful Caetani Cultural Centre house, grounds, and my studio for the next few weeks.

I’m talking about the space between thoughts, ideas and projects. These days, I hold that space sacred. And when I find myself packing too much in, I feel as if I’m losing grip to a part of myself.

Ray keeps reminding me that we are over halfway through our trip. I see this adventure as an inspiration of how to live our lives even after we land—it’s an adventure of a lifetime. When I look back at where we started, what astounds me is that when  I was working in DC, I was able to graphic record, graphic facilitate, design meetings, create visuals, and constantly make decisions that aligned with my values while working hard to serve the mission. I was able to squeeze what amounts to a year’s worth of freelance work into a few week’s time. I was doing more work than ever and felt like my colleagues were still running circles around me. My time in DC was like boot camp. I left one of the best teams I ever served on and one of the most culturally diverse places I will ever come to regret not being a bigger part of.

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Work life nor social life just isn’t the same without the Visioneers: Brian, Ben, Trent, Lauren and Dean. Pictured top: DC field trip to Chrome Industries where we sought consult on gear bags. Bottom: Our 2016 IFVP headline debut with internally-renowned kinetic sculptor Kevin Reese.

But just 8 weeks into this adventure—with just as many to go—I have experienced so much diverse human interaction than I ever did working full-time in DC. Making fine art for an entire month in a mansion full of artists, check. Traveling from coast to coast and meeting people in their environment while getting to know their culture, check. Making more letters than ever, check. Wait, was that possible? The list goes on and on. But one facet that I was living consciously, but couldn’t put it into words until now was the human experience that I was gaining by witnessing others—only possible at this level from being on the road.

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Random shots from around Vernon, BC: top to bottom, left to right: Caetani Center House (front view), rainy morning view of the courtyard just outside my studio, Ray planning his day in the sunroom, Canadian highway signs always make me wonder, selfie from Vernon, When in Canada…, Who’s that hippie driving the Jeep with the top down? (Note: the only sunny day since we’ve been here, the top hasn’t been off the Jeep in years), admiring the hand-painted windows of downtown Vernon, bleached leaves on tree stumps found during our hike.

It took a Skype call with a new found friend in England, a telephone call from a mentor in California and text from a best friend in Colorado to help me realize that it’s the short stories that I am writing, and not blogging about, that is making my experience the richest. The part that is filling every moment of this journey, packing it in so tight that is making it nearly humanly unbearable. And why haven’t I been sharing? Two reasons: 1) I didn’t think you wanted to hear it, and 2) I can’t write them down fast enough!

I have enjoyed the phone calls, skype calls and texts with many of you where I get to share: our first night of our maiden voyage, or the mystery stain on the carpet at the roadside motel we found just before crossing the border—was it a murder or attempt to change an identify before/after crossing the border? Or learning that someone who seemly held such different values wasn’t that different after all.

So now here I am at 4:44am tapping away at the computer instead of sleeping or making art. Instead I’m reflecting on the past few days and planning out the practical: social media content, finding campgrounds along the west coast, designing two books: one art and one for sale. Thinking less about the weather because I’m not exposed to the elements like I was two weeks ago while at the same time more about it because I can’t wait to go hiking in the most beautiful place I have ever been.

These weekly posts come so fast I can’t possibly capture every event or reflection. Writing about it takes me away from living it. But being in it is so unbelievable I have to account for it.

Once we land in August (wherever that may be) I have an entire list of writing prompts to help me write the back stories of this trip. My final dream destination is to end up writing in a cabin in the woods. Now I have the content, I just need to recollect and get it all down on paper.

Too close and making space for new…

As I sit in this soft, warm cocoon I’ve made of Ray’s sweatshirt, pillows and blankets on the couch at the foot of the bed where he lay sleeping, I can’t help but feel the pressure to make more of this experience, to take more in. I know that in just a few weeks I won’t have these comforts—unless they are offered up by friends along the way.

I’m also inspired but the life of Svena Caetani and the legacy she has left for artists. I look out the windows and wonder what she saw, how she felt. Was this her bedroom? This chair wasn’t hers, but was there a chair here for her to read in and look out across the property? What flowers grew here then? What trees were hers to climb? I am reminded by random statements that Susan, the director, has made about the property—how it once was and now her vision for the future. I am considering the possibility of capturing what I can while I am here and the longing to return when I find myself in my future studio, recapitulating about this experience and writing it all down.

Constantly inspired and influenced by others, this week was about gaining perspective. Thank you Lauren for the reminder. Today, I wish to consider these wise words from Guido Neuland, “It’s always worth to leave proven paths and allow new thoughts.” Reading those words for the first time on his website make me reflect on why I left DC for this journey. Who knows, it may bring me to a new place.

It’s supposed to be nice today, sunny and warm. We have stopped long enough to watch Spring catch up with us. Perhaps Ray and I will take a hike in the mountains of British Columbia and take more in.

Call me, email, text or let’s Skype. I’ll share with you my latest story. Perhaps you can help me retain all of this goodness of being on the road.

Happy Trails,
Heather

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Okanagan Lake—a vista view from Ellison Provencial Park in British Colombia—spans 135km long, 5km wide and is 232m deep. Six times bigger than Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado. It only took us 20 minutes to hike to this spot. We look forward to many hikes in this area.
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