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Beholding the Benefits


My sister texted a photo to me while she was sitting in an airport on an extended layover. Pictured was an empty glass on a cheap, laminated table under fluorescent lights and a vacant chair across from her. My immediate perception was “uncomfortable and lonely”.

I hate to travel. My anxious mind will envision every single catastrophe that could happen, because, well, I saw it on the news 28 years ago. I’m also claustrophobic, so airplanes are not top on my list of favorite places to be. And airports? Yeah, no. They’re full of people I don’t know and most of them look like they want to hurt me because I walk too slow.

My sister, on the other hand, enjoys flying. She sent me the picture of the empty glass and while I was feeling sorry for her, she stated matter-of-factly, “At this point in my life, I have fun no matter what I’m doing.” And then she ordered another mimosa.


Not only am I a horrible traveler, I am also impatient - which is why I am probably not the ideal person to hunt or fish with. If I don’t see movement or get a bite within the first 15 minutes, I’m ready to go and do something else. Most hunting trips are a lesson in waiting, and this year’s excursion was no different. Nothing moved but the grass and trees in the wind.

I fought my frustration while we were out and about looking for that beautiful trophy buck who didn’t want to show himself. And then I remembered what my sister texted me just the day before:

“At this point in my life, I have fun no matter what I’m doing.”

Shame on me. Here I was in one of the most gorgeous landscape settings I could ask for with the wind in my face and freedom from walls, work and responsibilities and I was focused on my own irritations. What if, while I was looking for deer, I started looking deeper to see the beauty that was already there? What if I let go of my expectations of a full freezer and shot pictures instead?


I had recently painted a couple of snag trees that left me feeling pretty accomplished in that the compositions were good (or so I thought), the colors even better, and I received multiple “likes” on social media. (Isn’t that the standard mark of success in today’s world?! Ha!)


So, instead of hunting for deer, I started hunting for trees. Snags were everywhere and while not every one of them was worthy of capture, I did come away with a new stock of reference photos for future paintings. (And I realized rather quickly that I had to change my vocabulary when finding a subject from “Stop!” to “Tree!” so my husband’s heart didn’t skip a beat thinking he had a target.)


I became aware of other visitors to the area as well. A flock of Merriam turkeys unknowingly escorted us part-way out of a small valley, their heads down as they scratched and pecked for seeds and bugs.

Magpies kept us company as well, and while they can be pesky and annoying birds of the crow family (and probably the reason we didn't see any deer), they have a striking beauty when the sun hits them just right and reveals the turquoise in their tail feathers.

We were also greeted by a welcome party of wintering range robins. I lost count after 20, but enjoyed seeing their orange breasts dotting the limbs in the trees against the cerulean blue sky and listening to their sharp yeeps as they alerted each other (and again, the deer) of our presence.


I had changed my focus and started to behold my surroundings, finishing the day with a bank full of benefits. My heart was content, my muscles relaxed. My head was clear from all the fresh air. The day was spent with my best friend in quiet conversation, drinking in the beauty of God’s creation and hot coffee from the thermos. It was a peaceful, noiseless atmosphere in that there was no TV blasting news of elections and wars. No worrying about tomorrow, no regretting yesterday. Just counting the special moments of this day and time.

So, in the end, the hunt was a success and I was satisfied. Until we got home and passed this cheeky fellow standing in our neighbor’s front yard… Go figure.

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