Yesterday I had to do some shopping, but decided to take the long, scenic route to Maryville to see how spring was coming along. I stopped to cross a scenic swinging bridge (never can resist those), then headed out for the Foothills Parkway because I hadn’t been back there since fall colors were strutting their stuff. After this long, cold winter, that felt like a lifetime ago.
I had plenty of time, so decided to take one of the side roads about half way down the Parkway (Flats Road) because I’d heard about a national park campground I wanted to check out. I was a bit disappointed it was still closed so I couldn’t drive around it, but figured I’d come back another time. No hookups, but right off the Parkway and looked like some sites big enough for me to make a temporary home, some with great views.
I still had plenty of time, so decided to stay on the back road, which I figured would take me back to the Parkway at some point. It turned into tiny winding Butterfly Gap Road and led into a community called Top of the World. I stopped at this quaint little lakeside chapel and got out to take some pictures.
And that was when my good mood totally deserted me. As I was going to move my purse under the seat, that’s when I discovered I had left my purse at home. I had packed water, drinks, snacks, camera – everything but my purse, which I don’t recall ever leaving behind before. Bad enough I was driving without a license with me, but I needed my wallet for the shopping I originally left for.
I was consumed with aggravation that I was far enough from home so the time it would take to get back there on these little roads would surely ruin the day I had planned.
I was so mad at myself, and then mad about being so mad, I slammed the car door and was going to head home fuming all the way. And the chapel wasn’t even open, for God’s sake! And of course, the nasty negative self-talk started: “Why didn’t you look for your purse when you stopped at that first campground a ways back, you idiot?!” “How could you forget your purse of all things when you were going shopping??!”
Once I get into that kind of state, there’s usually no help for me for a while, but I decided I really wanted to save myself in that very moment, and what better place than a chapel by the lake? So I got back out, sat outside, looked out at the peaceful water, imagined all my worries drifting away in its tiny ripples, and prayed for my peace of mind to be restored. I prayed to let me see that this delay didn’t have to mean the end of my day unless I let it. I prayed to be grateful for what I’d seen so far (not just today) and I still had plenty of time left in the Smokies. I prayed to remember all the wisdom I’ve learned about how these kind of things may be “happy mistakes” when really there are no mistakes to begin with. I could choose to see this as an obstacle or an opportunity.
I told myself that maybe it had a higher purpose and that if I had continued with my original plans, I might have gotten into an accident or had some dire thing happen that was prevented by my having to backtrack just then for my purse. What if I would have gotten all the way to the store (still several miles away) and didn’t discover I had no money with me until then? But these things are best seen in hindsight, not easy for me in those now moments. Still I tried to play every trick I could on my racing mind to stop my downward spiraling mood.
I’ve seen many things written about mood disorders, depression and anxiety and so much says it’s a simple matter of changing your attitude and the way you look at things. I’ve always disputed that since it’s certainly never been that easy for me or those I know who suffer from the same crippling things at times.
But slowly I calmed down and let the GPS lead me back home down some back roads I would probably have never been on. I waved to folks mowing their lawns, to cows and horses grazing in the fields, gawked at trees and thanked them for coming back to life with such gushing colors after such a harsh winter.
I got back home, grabbed my purse, went right back to the Parkway where I left off, went to Maryville to get what I needed and came back to the Parkway the back way down this road that hugs the lake with views of my beloved mountains.
I stopped alongside this lake so many times, took the selfie at the top of this page and told myself it was really a tickled pink day, so how could I stay upset?
There were pink trees framing the sparkling blue lake…
More pink trees framing the mountains… and mountains always lift my spirits, which didn’t need much more help by this point.
Before I headed back home, I came across this scene with more neutral colors:
Its soft golden light and muted mountains soothed my senses even more.
I even went down Hwy. 129 (Tail of the Dragon) a little ways, promising to return when I could really take my time since it was getting late by then. I hadn’t been on it since fall, either, but I remembered it well and wanted to be fresher for its 318 curves in 11 miles. So I have spring on the Tail to look forward to, also, so things were looking up in more ways than one.
But right before my last turnoff to home, I saw a sign warning of a “sobriety checkpoint” ahead. Being stopped by the police always makes me nervous no matter what I’m doing or not doing. But they were very nice and polite, and I joked that the only thing I was intoxicated with was spring and the beautiful day I just had. The officer saw my camera and laughed and said he hoped I had gotten some good pictures. I thought, “That’s just what I need now – to get home and find out none of my pictures turned out!”
But I reminded myself that I had still seen, felt and smelled it all, whether I captured anything with the camera or not. I really am blessed with so many things, so I thought some more about what had happened today and my off-the-handle initial reactions.
I still had plenty of time to do everything I had the energy to do anyway. I actually did more than I thought I would do when I set off and I had a lot of fun sharing pictures with my friends on Facebook and reading their reactions to them.
That got me to thinking that I don’t journal nearly as much as I did when I first started RVing. 14 years ago, it was a completely different lifestyle and I was writing about every little new and exciting thing I discovered about fulltime RVing itself. Maybe I’ve started taking it for granted more now. But I still hear from others every day who wish they could do what I’m doing.
A lot of people are surprised to hear that I deal with depression and anxiety on a much-too-frequent basis since they see how I made my travel dreams come true and the life I’m living as meaning I must be a happy camper all of the time. And I still don’t have a hint of a regret about choosing this lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean I don’t deal with “real life” problems and misdirections in a calm and rational manner all the time.
But this is my real life and even if it sounds like a dream come true to others, sometimes I feel like I get knocked around by life and sometimes it’s me that does the kicking of myself.
But spring comes every year to remind me that contrasts, even in moods, can be seen as a positive thing. One of my favorite quotes about spring: “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”
I certainly welcome spring – and thankfully, there’s so much more of it to come!