Many of us search for islands of calm in a world where violence and chaos swirl around us. Sometimes we also feel besieged by the demands of work and try to carve out “free time” despite the intrusions of email and text messages from co-workers and bosses who interrupt our evenings and weekends.
Achieving serenity–even for short periods of time–can be an elusive and tantalizing dream. The harder we search for it and the more we need it, the harder it is to find. Some of us find release from the everyday pressures of life through yoga, running, or even hang gliding. Others escape by traveling to a restful spot in the country or at the beach. Still others find tranquility in prayer or meditation.
For this week’s photo challenge, I’ll share some places and activities that have brought me serenity.
Reading and Writing like Thoreau at Walden Pond
The sole art that suits me is that which, rising from unrest, tends toward serenity.–Andre Gide
Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond is a gorgeous spot to find serenity. Standing next to his desk in his re-constructed cabin, I could easily imagine Thoreau reflecting on his time in the woods, reading inspiring books, and writing his famous works. Reading and writing bring me serenity as well. I often sit down at my desk feeling restless and irritated. But the act of writing releases me from my everyday concerns and helps me enter a calmer place.
Hiking, Exploring and Photography in Sedona, Arizona, Savannah, Georgia, and Portofino, Italy
I think that the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.–Luis Barragan
Savannah, Georgia is another spot in the United States that is imbued with mystery. It’s also filled with beautiful antebellum architecture, friendly people, great restaurants, and lots of Southern charm. Locals talk matter-of- factly about ghosts and haunted places. One Sunday evening, we wanted to pick up a prescription at a local CVS, but it was closed at 6:00. A day or two later, when my son returned to the store, he asked a clerk why they closed so early. The clerk replied, “Oh, that’s because the store is haunted. Nobody wants to stay here after dark.” Savannah’s charm and quirkiness makes it a favorite place to relax.
Portofino is one of the many serene towns we have visited in Italy. Built around the curving rim of the sea, the town rises sharply and rings the surrounding hillsides. On our last visit, we wandered through town and spotted a woman in black who was hurrying up a winding street, clutching a handkerchief and some carnations. Later, we spotted her again in the local cemetery, standing in front of a row of burial niches carved out of the side of the mountain. Head bowed, tears running down her cheeks, her grief was almost palpable. This little moment became the inspiration for a scene from my book, when one of the main characters, Lucia, visits the grave of her child, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident. She burns a sprig of rosemary to help protect her child from evil spirits, even in death. Another time in Portofino we saw a bride and several guests in their finest wedding clothes pausing in the middle of the celebration to devour pizza in the piazza.
Where Friends and Family Gather
Some of us find tranquility amidst the people we love. For me, there’s no greater joy than being surrounded by people who know me very well and still accept me as I am! I am also fortunate to find joy as a wife and mother. My husband and son are two remarkable men who inspire me with their curiosity, intelligence, sense of humor, and love of travel and adventure. When I am with them, serenity settles around me like a comforting blanket.