I've been thinking a lot about the bears lately.. yes, the bears that sleep tucked away in a winters forest. Maybe they've always just had it right -- take a break in those winter months-- a long nap that rejuvenates the body and soul, so that when the time comes, you again are ready to take on the world. It is a very human thing to do actually, maybe not sleep away the days and hide from the cold of winter, but to take a mental break-- some time away from your art, your passion. A break that allows you to let go of the pressure that you hold yourself to-- or that, maybe you feel society does. A break that then allows you to find clarity in your craft, so that tomorrow, you can again get up and do it all over.
In this social media driven world, where we allow our eyes and brains to fall into technology, losing sight of what is right in front of us, we can easily get lost in the chaos. I know I have fallen victim to this behavior more than I would like to admit. A battle per-say of the fittest. Who "looks" like they are doing it the best? We spend hours falling deep into this imagery and content that is making us feel inferior to one another-- some of us say it is inspiring, but on the other side of that inspiration comes comparison and self doubt. It is by far the unspoken heaviness that guides us all into the darkness. A sort of drug that has us all addicted and obsessed with the intangible. There is this expectation for us all to always be on-- always be creating. A race to see who can do it first-- it better. A fear, that if we cannot be seen now, that we are nothing. Maybe that is just the human spirit pushing us, our greatest competitor of life -- or maybe, we need to step back, take a break, and breath in some of the beauty of this world.
I find myself always coming back to this concept. When this city life, that I have chosen, all seems too heavy, my cure is getting lost in some wilderness. A mixture of mountain top and giant trees-- or some desert rocks and meditation. I do break away often, I am grateful that my lifestyle allows me the time, but it is nothing like the winter hibernation that cures my soul.
It never was intentional, I know that the end of the year brings holidays and time off, which is categorized as a break-- but is it really? I always find the chaos of the holidays exhausting, followed by an expectation of starting fresh on January 1st and taking this year to the "next level". I am usually not ready for this. I believe the beginning of the year is by far the hardest-- because, by New Years Eve, have we really taken the time to look inward? To truly sit with ourselves and ask questions? For we are ever changing and with that change comes growing pains that we sometimes forget to let heal.
So I took a break--a winter hibernation. I kinda had to. On a more personal note, I had a rough last year. I had obstacles thrown at me both in my personal life and work, that I never saw coming-- big changes, dealing with loss and great sadness. Just life's bittersweet song that sometimes shakes you to your core. Makes you step back from the choas, from the social media, from the never ending race-- and ask yourself what is it all for?
I don't know if I had pushed through, stayed busy, filled my life with superficial creativity-- that I would again find my inspiration to create. I am at peace with the time it took to climb out of that dark winters hole-- because it is ok to put down the camera, or the computer or whatever your craft is-- to just look inward and breath.
Hibernation- take some time and get lost inside of yourself, it may hurt, it could sting but the only way to heal is to feel the pain and give it time. The winter snow always melts and once again the soul of the earth awakens and is painted with great color.
WORDS + IMAGERY BY VALERIE NOELL
PHOTOS TAKEN WHILE EXPLORING KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK THIS PAST WINTER DURNING A BLIZZARD.
SPECIAL THANKS TO BRITTANY POWELL FOR TAKING ON THE WINTER WITH ME AND BEING IN MY PHOTOS.