Back in 2020, I was beyond ecstatic to have been chosen as GSMA’s Steve Kemp Writer-in-Residence. I was psyched to spend six weeks living in the park, not only shadowing Steve and learning more about this awesome national park, but also working on my own writing projects and creating some community-based programs. COVID-19 put a wrench in my plans, making me the writer still not in residence. I remain hopeful that my time is coming soon! Until then, I will continue wandering in wonder in the Western NC mountains that I call home.
Despite the fact I write professionally, words sometimes elude me.
I had been leading a children’s program I called the Wonder of Water at the same time as I was finishing coaching a client on her book To Be Like Water. The more time I spent working and walking along stream banks, the more I sensed the water had something to tell me.
It came to me early one morning, seconds after I’d opened my eyes, interrupting the typical song-running-through-my-head start to my day. The Wonder of Water had been put to bed about two months prior and I was now working on another program I called Writing Nature, which afforded ample time for the kids to play in the stream. The thought that grabbed my attention was, “there’s a difference between being in the moment and of the moment.”
|"One thing I noticed immediately was how the current continually shifted. In some places, the flow was gentle, beckoning me to take a closer look."|
As I lay there in bed, I let the thoughts percolate.
When I’m not writing, you can most often find me outside in nature, frequently taking pictures in the moment. I have a knack for catching that hint of light or that glistening, suspended raindrop on a flower or limb. That ability to be in the moment inspired my book A Moment’s Notice.
There’s a subtle difference, though, when I step in a stream or river. I began paying closer attention when the kids insisted on climbing up the stream through the water. Because I had asked them to write from the perspective of the stream, I did nothing to discourage them; I simply asked them to be patient with me because I wasn’t as surefooted and fearless as they seemed to be.
One thing I noticed immediately was how the current continually shifted. In some places, the flow was gentle, beckoning me to take a closer look. In other sections, I could barely stand, feeling as if the weight of the water could easily topple me. Then there was the somewhat funny moment when the bottom fell out and I found myself shoulder deep, frantically reaching into my pocket to rescue my phone before it drowned.
In those moments, I sensed that I was part of the moment, part of the flow. It gave me pause to reflect. I love being able to catch special moments, but, at the same time, I also want to be of the moment, flowing much like the stream, sometimes fast, sometimes gentle, sometimes impeded by obstacles, but always moving forward somehow.
|"In those moments, I sensed that I was part of the moment, part of the flow. It gave me pause to reflect."|
Being of the moment inspired a new series of photos. Oh, the exhilaration I feel when I stand in the flow, capturing the movement. Admittedly, I’ve lost a few pair of readers to the trout or crawdads when the current has overwhelmed me and skinned a few body parts in some slick stumbles. A bruised ego or extremities pale in comparison to the new colors I keep discovering. Some of those colors are what draw me in while others are a post-download surprise.
With fall approaching, I imagine my in-the-stream adventures will soon come to a seasonal close. I feel certain, though, the lesson of being part of the moment will continue inspiring my journey. Perhaps, the next time you wander along Porter’s Creek in the Greenbrier section of the park, which happens to be a personal favorite spot, you will allow it to inspire yours, too.
Sue Wasserman is the author of A Moment’s Notice and Walk with Me: Exploring Nature’s Wisdom. She has also written for the New York Times and Southern Living. She currently lives in North Carolina.