Entering Blue

 

Sprawled atop the desert rocks, I released my body to the heat of the stones and the wind whipping across the mountaintop.  A seven mile hike in the high desert of Joshua Tree National Park brought Jill, my daughter, and me to the top of the Lost Palms canyon.  

“If you could live anywhere, where would you live?” I asked Jill.

“I don’t know.   Why do you ask Mom?”

“Because it is a question I have been trying to answer myself.” I admitted.

“So where would you like to live Mom?”

“When I’m in the mountains, I like the mountains.  When I am at the beach, I like the beach.  When I am in the woods, I like the woods.”

“You need a place that gives you all three.”  Jill said.

I laughed.   “If you know a place like that, let me know.”

But this day I found myself in the high desert, at first glance a seemingly beige environment, but as we hiked in the 80 degree sun, I made discovery after discovery.  Autumn in the desert surprised me.   The red barrel cactus sitting amid the leaves of a muted green yucca snuck up on my awareness.  The teddy bear cholla spun silvery threads in the sunlight forming a smoky veil in contrast to the patina of desert varnish and coppery streaks embedded in the rocks.  Miniature fan palms popped spikes of green across the landscape disputing the thought that this is a completely arid landscape. 

I realized, when I am in the desert, I like the desert.

Atop the rocks, I could not take my eyes away from the blue sky.  Crisp and clear, the wind chased every cloud away.  Miles and miles of blue stretched to the distance in every direction.   I did not miss the clouds.    As I lay on my back looking up, at the doorway to the sky, the blue welcomed me.  I struggled to find words to describe it.

Powder blue seemed too weak, robin’s egg blue was much too fragile, and baby blue pastel could not compare.  The patriotic palette of royal and navy blues and the indigoes were too strong.  Azure was too sharp, cerulean not sharp enough.   The watery sparkle of aquamarine lent itself more to oceans of leaping dolphins than to the muted radiance of the desert.   Sapphire spoke of jewels while teal seemed nothing more than a greenish watercolor wash.  Slate-blue was more grey and ice blue too Paul Newman.

Why was this important?  To find the perfect word for this so perfect blue day, this perfect blue sky?  I did not feel blue.   I wasn’t singing the blues.   Or was I?  My life is changing and, as scary as it should be, I embrace it.  I stand on the brink of career transition.  Do I make the leap to something new and satisfying   or stay safe with the tried and true. 

True blue? 

I pictured a beat cop, baton swinging from the hip, hat pulled low to shield the eyes.  The image of a postman jumping out of his truck, dark stripes framing the outer seams of work trousers came to my mind.  I saw the steadfast Marine, resplendent in dress blues, and his sharp salute to expectations.  Blue striped suits of wool and rep ties, white crisp shirts and cufflinks have shaped my world.  For years I have worn the corporate uniform, professional and poised, confident in my knowing.  Ready for something new, it came to me, despite my corporate success, despite my ability to fit in, inside where it counts I have always been different.

What blue am I?

The soft wash of denim blue favors me as does the pale blue pashmina thrown across my shoulders, a reminder of Mary’s mantle.  Turquoise and silver hoops dangle from my ears, a reminder of well being.  Spirit surrounds me, urging me to write, urging me to service.  The serenity of blue calls me but it is the blue ribbon of bravery that I need right now, the courage to accept this new path.

As I gazed at the blue sky, I raised my camera.   The lens filled with blue and only blue.  I snapped the shutter. 

“Mom, did you just take a picture of nothing but the empty sky?”  Jill asked.

“No, I took a picture of a beautiful sky, full of the most beautiful blue.”

“No one will understand that picture.”  Jill laughed.

“But I understand it.”  I said.

I had my answer.   The color of the sky that day was pure blue.

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