This week has been one full of lessons: (1) It’s amazing what getting enough sleep can do to tamp down anxiety, (2) my stomach really hates mass-produced food, and (3) newer mountains are significantly larger than older ones.
My first week in Banff was magical. It’s day nine of 14, and I can safely say I’m now used to the altitude, as walking up a slight incline no longer winds me, and I was able to go to the gym twice at the end of the week. (Though I was not able to lift or squat as heavy as usual. I should not have tried.)
Last week, I revised two essays and one short story, which is *extremely* good for me. I haven’t been this productive in my writing since early 2018, when I was revising my memoir again and publishing essays much more frequently. Reading over my work and implementing suggestions I got months ago, it felt good—maybe it’s all the mountain air, but I kept saying, “Wow, that was a great line,” as I read my work. Not having time produces an extra amount of anxiety because it makes me harder on myself, as if with less time, I have to produce better out the gate, which isn’t a realistic expectation. I need to accept the fact that good writing takes time—if not moments of a day, then moments of years—and let that be that.
Sunday was a highlight of the trip, though. I took the day off from writing and went on a centre-sponsored trip to Lake Louise.
It is a large lake that is fed by a glacier; meaning, it is incredibly cold and one would be a fool to get in it. The lake is surrounded by mountains with trails, so one of my colleagues and I trotted the 1,205 feet to a 7,005-foot elevation to the Lake Agnes Tea House, the oldest tea house in Canada.
According to the little info sheet at our table, it was “originally built as a refuge for hikers 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railway surveyors and has been serving tea since 1905.” I had a delightful oolong tea with biscuits and jam and an energy bar that might have been more chocolate than energy, but was delicious.
I’ve been intrigued by hiking and mountain climbing since accidentally climbing Camelback that one time and—chintzy as it is—reading Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild. I can only speak in clichés when I say that being in nature makes me feel closer to God the Creator—so many of these mountain peaks and faces look like painted backdrops on an old Hollywood set, it’s so hard to believe they’re real. I’ve never felt more honored to be a writer in this space, copycatting His creating in a way He has gifted me to.
Being around 19 other writers (as well as roughly 40 jazz musicians, who are all remarkably talented) here in Banff has been transformative. We have a week left, and I have to be honest, that while I miss my spouse, I can’t say that I miss Metro delays or sirens blaring on Rhode Island Avenue. I’m going to soak in the rest of my week here and I pray that I take this serenity back home with me.