The View from Up There

A few months ago I took a writer and a photographer on a river trip and a hiking excursion for a travel piece in the French magazine, Le Figaro.

These guys were so much fun and willing to scramble up every hill and over every boulder that looked like it might be climbable. Every time we’d come to a destination, mind you, the destination in and of itself was stunning, they’d asked me, “what is up there? How do you get there?” I’d say, “I’m not sure, there isn’t a trail and I’ve never been, but let’s go!”

So with this fearless French duo, I got to see the sights beyond the sights that everyone visits—the views of the mountains and the deserts that only the people willing to ask, “what’s up there?” get to see.

When I am not writing about my own made-up worlds, I’m out exploring the real one. Sometimes though, I forget to ask the important questions, the “what is up there, what comes next” questions. This trip was a good reminder to always aim beyond what’s easy. Because the view from “up there” is unmatched.

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A sneak peak at what I'm up to when I'm not writing...

Like most authors, artists, and creators I wear many hats—writer, editor, podcaster, dog mom, Tyrannosaurus rex lover...you get it.

One facet of my work life involves taking people out on the river and into the wilds of the Big Bend region of Texas as a guide for Angell Expeditions. March is an especially busy time for us as Texans go on Spring Break, and the weather turns nice. I wasn't able to get much writing done then, but I did spend a lot of time outdoors recharging and getting inspired.

I love this other part of my life for many reasons. It gets me outside. I meet incredible people from all over the world. I work with an awesome team of hard-working, nature-loving, kind-hearted people who bring a joy and connectedness to my life that I don’t get sitting at my desk alone slinging sentences.

On one of the many trips I led in March, I had the opportunity to take two families out on the river with two of my fellow guides for a three day, two night adventure (that’s a lot of twos!).

This was one of the hardest trips I’ve ever been on, but also one of the most rewarding. So many things went wrong. There were so many instances where we had to jump in and help each other. Everyone stayed calm. Everyone supported and lifted each other up. The clients were kind and gracious and profusely thanked us for the incredible journey we took them on. And I bonded even more with my fellow guides who had to help me out of a bad situation and make the most of a trip that seemed doomed with disaster.

It’s times like these I reflect on the importance of connection and gratitude. I spend so much of my time alone, and sometimes I forget how critical it is to have a team outside of myself.

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This photo of the canyon sums up how I feel about this excursion and about life. We see beauty in the final image, but what we forget is that the beauty was born of chaos. Formed in time by raging waters and tearing winds.

I don’t remember the trips where nothing goes wrong. They vanish into the back of my mind with the rest of the mundane. What I remember years in the future is the chaos. The wind. The rain. The forces of nature that shape the canyon. The forces of circumstance that shape life.

This trip was like the canyon in which it unfolded and I will always appreciate what I gained from the struggle—a humbled sense of gratitude toward life and some kick-ass material for a future book!

Cheers to all. Read a book. Go on an adventure. And remember "the most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself." - Wallace Stevens.