Tuesday 8 July 2014

Seeing Through New Eyes*

I've just had the pleasure of spending a week with a group of fascinating, engaged, accomplished, kind and humble new friends in the Canadian Rockies.

I took a week off from my amazing new job in municipal government (where I talk trash to kids every day by leading tours of our local landfills) to revisit the Rockies with Backroads on their premiere walking trip.  Every Backroads trip is amazing.  And this particular journey is really something to write home about.  I was in awe every day.  I am again reminded why I so often say that working as a trip leader is the best job in the world (and luckily for me, it sits in good company amongst one of the many 'best jobs in the world' that I have held.)

Spending this week introducing newcomers to Banff, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks helped me to view the area through new eyes.  I'll quote Marcel Proust here as he writes,

'The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.'

I owe a debt of gratitude to my new friends for helping me to open my new eyes each morning in the Canadian Rockies.  Though I've had the great privilege of travelling the world and experiencing many of the best things our earth has to offer, I am still most blown away by my own backyard. 

Our group of twenty shared conversations, daily hikes bringing us to ever more beautiful vistas and a dip in a mountain lake.  We smelled sweet pine sap on cool alpine breezes, marveled at thunderstorms over our gourmet meals and emerged from the richest desserts you could imagine just in time to see a double rainbow over the Rockies.

My co-leader Kenny (a generous, multi-talented man most noted for his hilarity and his cooking skills - seriously folks, check out Thai Cooking With Kenny!) toasted our week together saying,

'It is a special opportunity to spend a week in such a spectacular place with such a wonderful group of people - made more so by working alongside one of my best friends.' 

Kenny, I couldn't agree more.  And as far as best friends go, I am one lucky gal.  This one's for you.

Here I am, reading you a final morning poem.  I can put up photos of myself because it's my blog.  So there. 
Photo Credit:  Mark Weston
Morning Poem

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver
© Mary Oliver
*The title of this post was inspired by one of my mentors and a woman I see as a modern prophet, Joanna Macy.  For more on her work and seeing with new eyes, I highly recommend any one of her wonderful books, or her website: http://www.joannamacy.net/theworkthatreconnects/newpractices/73-seeingwithneweyes.html 


  1. Heather, it was so great meeting you too! What a wonderful experience it was for us to learn from you and Ken and to share in the beauty of the Canadian Rockies! Love your blog!

  2. Thanks for reading Idelle! Big hugs from the (smoky) Canadian Rockies!