My husband Jim and I got to drive from Portland, Oregon, where we live, to the sea side town of Seaside. I took my trusty journal along. Not only do I like writing and sketching by the ocean (and everywhere else), but it helps me cope with the fact that my mobility is so much more limited than it used to be. I’ve had problems walking since I was sixteen, but since I turned fifty, 3 years ago, my joints and balance have deteriorated a bit more.
Three years ago I felt pretty safe just using my cane at the shore, but now I need a walker to keep from falling. My friend photographer Clyde Jones took this about four years ago. I was getting along pretty well with my quad cane.
Jim now brings camp chairs and we do tandem journaling and breathe the sea air. I forgot my camera, so I did a lot of quick sketching. When I sketched, I kept thinking of those nice polished visual journals that get posted on line. I despair that my drawing will never be that good. I like drawing birds and people and things that tend to move quickly, so I’m scribbling and trying to keep up. But even when I draw a rock, some days, the drawing isn’t so great.
But that’s not why I keep my journal. Even with bad drawing, it’s good memory. And it keeps me from dwelling on the past. If you want to live in the present, sketching is a very helpful tool. The inner chatter stops. If you do it long enough, even the inner critic (sometimes known as the itty bitty sh**ty committee) goes quiet.
At our first stop for sitting on the beach, a man and woman were building a cross. The woman held pieces of drift wood together while the man tried to cut rope with a rock. Jim was alarmed that she was leaning over to hold up the heavy wood and might throw her back out, so he offered the man his knife. The man refused and said he only built crosses with things that God provided. The woman said, “Maybe God provided him with the knife,” but the man kept working the rope on a the rock. He had on designer looking sunglasses, a nice watch and a leather fanny pack. “The Lord doesn’t usually provide such large pieces of rope. I’ve built lots of these crosses and I always only use what we the Lord provides.”
So Jim sat back down next to me. Eventually the woman let go of the driftwood til the man got t he rope sorted out. He was singing praise songs. And when he finished, he took a picture of the cross with a digital camera.
I drew it quickly and terribly, but the story is set in my mind and I captured details I wouldn’t have otherwise. I also totally forgot about not being able to frolic at the water’s edge.
Has your journal ever elevated your mood and helped you see the humor in humans?
Here’s some pages from yesterday — on thin sketchbook paper and painted later with cheap pan watercolors. Not so very artful, but a delight to me nontheless. And now I have a little bit of the ocean to carry with me all month.