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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 5/21/21 - Rejuvenation in Maine

“‎I have always been fascinated by the ocean, to dip a limb beneath its surface and know that I'm touching eternity, that it goes on forever until it begins here again.” ― Lauren DeStefano

This gratitude Friday, I am writing about down time. Down east time, or close to it. I never needed it more. I felt relaxed in a way I forgot existed. Of course, we went to Maine. We always circle back to the Pine Tree State. My very first trip here was probably around 1972 or 73. I recall visiting Two Lights State Park and watching my cousins pull sand dollars out of the surf at Prouts Neck. A few years later, I have fond memories of camping with family and friends in Acadia National Park. At age 17, I hiked to the top of Mount Katahdin, 5,269 feet. This video of the knife edge trail will provide some insight as to why that hike on that trail was the experience of a lifetime. Maine has been a place of exploration and rejuvenation since my earliest days and over the course of my years.

Trips to Maine have become nearly an annual thing for Julie and I. We have ended up looping back to some of the very same places I first experienced in those early years and even some new ones. The picture above was taken earlier this week in Two Lights. Bar Harbor and Acadia are places we have gotten to regularly over the years. I took her up to Baxter State Park once to see Katahdin, but it was overcast with a low cloud ceiling. We have been to Eastport and up and down the coast to the point I know parts of it as well as my hometown.

Maine is about rocks, sea, pine trees, and tidal pools to explore. It smells of the mix of conifers and the ocean. One can envision life in earlier times here, some of the earliest English settlements on the continent were at Popham in 1607. Maine has been inhabited for around 11 thousand years. Even earlier than that, the coastal sections of Maine were part of something called Avalonia, and is geologically similar to Scotland, another reason we love it so much. Something about sitting on the rocks watching the tide come in and waves crash in front of you that provides a heightened sense of connection to all those who traveled here before us and the primordial nature of this land.

Sitting on rocks watching the water was a highlight for me, it always is. Science is helping us to begin to understand why people gravitate to the ocean. We are learning about what some call “Blue Mind,” a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. For some reason, being around water makes us happy. The science shows it actually does relax the mind.

This trip, we stumbled upon the work of Thomas Dambo, an artist from Denmark. He makes these 30-foot-tall trolls with recycled materials with a mission to reconnect people back to nature. We saw five of his amazing works at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. NPR recently did this piece on him. We were not prepared for what we found. They are incredible, and he has installed them all over the world. Two notable ones are “Hector the Protector” in Culebra Puerto Rico and Isak Heartstone in Breckenridge CO, which was taken down as it drew too many visitors. His work captures something special. Good art can do that. It can help keep the soul young and let you go to the place in life where the world is still wonderous and full of things to discover. It may well be part of the recipe to stay young at heart as we age.

For many of us, rest can renew the creative spark that comes from putting our work brains in neutral and just coasting. One of the paradoxes in life is that often, one must stop working to be more effective at the thing you are doing. As noted in this 2004 TED Talk James Watson was trying to figure out the structure of DNA. One night, he had a dream of two staircases in a double helix configuration. He woke up and realized that this was the structure of life, he and Francis Crick went on to build the first model of DNA in 1953. While I don’t see anything like that in my cards, I do know the same dynamic often occurs, I can solve things better after I stop thinking and just be. It was a week of just being.

Grateful to come through this last year and be able to rest in good health and a place to stay productive, neither of which were certain at this time last year. Grateful for Julie Miller who made this week possible with her art as that is what got us to Maine. Grateful for recovery, with which there never would be time of discovery or the luxury of a vacation. Grateful for the rest between the challenges. Grateful for the challenges that provide opportunities to grow. Grateful to be able to see the worlds with a child’s eyes of discovery during times like this week.

What are you grateful for today?

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