Over a glass of wine, a friend confessed, "I'm between stories. I used to have passion and a purpose. That's gone now. I'm like a hermit crab that's discarded an old shell that was too small for it, but hasn't found the next one to grow into."

Between Stories

Last week­end I went on a hike up near Mt. Rainier here in Wash­ing­ton State. I head­ed for a fire look­out built in the 1930’s, no longer in for­mal use, but a good des­ti­na­tion for a clear sum­mer day. After an hour or so, I round­ed a cor­ner in the trail and looked for­ward across a moun­tain side of scree to the dis­tant, lone­ly build­ing. A ways yet to go, I thought, with an uncom­fort­able twinge. A ways yet to go.


But some­thing stopped me for a moment. I real­ized I had been hik­ing as if all that mat­tered was the uphill effort and get­ting there. Already my legs ached a lit­tle from the climb. I stopped and breathed in the cool morn­ing air. I thought to myself, “What am I doing? It’s beau­ti­ful here.” And I slowed down, sud­den­ly more hap­py to fol­low a track of stones through a Zen garden. 


Flow­ers explod­ed among the rocks. A mar­mot on the trail scram­bled quick­ly upward to peer down at me from a high­er perch. 



Like my friend, I, too, was between sto­ries in a way, but it was a gra­cious thing sud­den­ly not to think in terms of ori­gins and des­ti­na­tions, pas­sions and pur­pos­es. My legs no longer hurt. The world had done it’s surgery on me. I was­n’t going any­where. I was here. And true enough, when I reached the look­out it was­n’t as ful­fill­ing a moment as I had thought it might be. I had to inten­tion­al­ly qui­et my mon­key mind from focus­ing on how soon I’d start my return.

Of course, all this made me reflect on my work and the places I do it. These are places that are nev­er between sto­ries. And when I’m there, I’m not between them either. There’s always a pro­ject­ed end-point. There’s always push. My legs and every­one else’s hurt from the climb. The urgency cov­ers over the view, the actu­al see­ing and here-and-now expe­ri­enc­ing that releas­es its own cre­ative force, that makes things sim­pler, obsta­cles small­er; where you just walk for­ward and enjoy the walk together.

In the back of my mind sud­den­ly a refrain from an old Clap­ton song sur­faced. Some­one put it on the play­er in my head:

Every­time you think you’ve paid the price,
Seems you’ve always got to pay it twice.
Every­time you think you’re near the end,
You turn around and find anoth­er ticket.

Why must we wait until tomorrow,
When we already know the score?

Every­time you think you’ve run the course,
Seems you’ve got to ride anoth­er horse.
Every­time you think you’re near the end,
You turn around and find anoth­er ticket.

I turned off that music. I sat qui­et­ly in my own rocky perch. The moment had depth and open­ness to it. Maybe also a lit­tle vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. What a per­fect­ly mag­nif­i­cent place to be. 

The next tick­et could wait, maybe for a long time.


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  • Anoth­er won­der­ful post, my friend. 

    Love the pic­tures. So peace­ful and serene. : )

    The only thing we real­ly have is right here. 

    Right now.

    This moment.

    This breath.

    I’m hap­py to share this moment with you. 

    : )

  • Then we can walk togeth­er for awhile, if you like, or just sit here and admire the view. Thank you, Saman­tha! It’s great to share the moment!

  • Dan,

    I look for­ward to your posts because I know when I read them I will be trans­formed. I will find myself tran­scend­ing into some­thing big­ger than myself.

    Your post made me think, how many hikes do we take in our lives, how many times do we push our­selves to get to the top with­out paus­ing in the moment.

    Our life take us on many hikes and we need to set the pace. ONLY we can set the rhythm because only we know our essence.

    I LOVE the jour­ney I take with your writ­ing Dan.

    I tru­ly admire your vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and tenac­i­ty and strength and love.

    I love you yesterday
    I love you today
    and I will always love you tomorrow.

    with much heart

  • How deeply endear­ing are your words, Lol­ly. And yes it is up to us to set that pace, and not for­get where the trea­sure of a sin­gle moment lies. 

    In turn, it’s always a great plea­sure to see your words here and feel your heart and soul come through, Lol­ly. Thank you so much!

  • Like Saman­tha and Lol­ly I wish to add how grate­ful I am for your invi­ta­tion to deep­er reflection.
    As I am writ­ing you find me in a typ­i­cal Parisian café in beau­ti­ful Montréal.
    Your post I believe empha­sizes the impor­tance of tran­si­tions and of stop­ping to allow what sur­rounds us to ele­vate us.
    Very pow­er­ful… I will add your pho­tos to Pin­ter­est with your per­mis­sion they are so beautiful.
    Appre­ci­ate you.

  • Dan,
    As your words “Flow­ers explod­ed among the rocks” hit my eyes, I flashed to sum­mer days at the lake. After din­ner I would go back down to the water and walk among the rocks. 

    With­out the day­time motor boats and skiers churn­ing up the water, “water plants explod­ed among the rocks”. 

    Makes us real­ize that so much is there to inspire us, to calm us, to wel­come us — when we open our minds to receiv­ing it.

    Beau­ti­ful post. Many thanks for the stroll down mem­o­ry lane and a warm nudge into tomor­row’s happiness.


  • Dear Johann~

    How won­der­ful to be sit­ting in that café — I wish I were there to have a cup of cof­fee with you. I love your phrase, “to allow what sur­rounds us to ele­vate us.” That real­ly is the essence! Thank you again!

    I’ll email you sep­a­rate­ly regard­ing the pho­tos and pin­ning them.

    All the best

  • My dear Kate~

    Thank you for high­light­ing how the things that can inspire, calm, and wel­come us may have been there all the time, just cov­ered up by sounds and the churn of the day. 

    I am so pleased to nudge toward a lit­tle more hap­pi­ness. What a great way to say it! We can all use a lit­tle more of that — every day.

    All the best, Kate!

  • Beau­ti­ful pho­tos, inspir­ing prose and poet­ry … as usual. 

    I’m so glad to that oth­ers’ expe­ri­ences of your posts are so well aligned with my own.

    A riff on Jon Kabat-Zin­n’s book comes to mind “Wher­ev­er you hike, there you are”.

    I dis­cov­ered sev­er­al YouTube videos of her­mit crabs mov­ing to new shells. Here’s one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jZe_VGLRYI.

    In most of the videos I sam­pled, the her­mit shell moves to an imme­di­ate­ly adja­cent shell, i.e., it does not leave one shell before anoth­er is found. Lin­ger­ing between shells — or between sto­ries — seems like a vul­ner­a­ble, or per­haps vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, proposition.

    In any case, it’s com­fort­ing to know that oth­ers can relate to this between-ness.

  • Joe~

    I laughed out loud at your ref­er­ence to Jon Kabat-Zinn and loved the YouTube video– it’s great. 

    I looked up her­mit crabs, too. On Wikipedia, I found this curi­ous reference:

    Sev­er­al her­mit crab species, both ter­res­tri­al and marine, use vacan­cy chains to find new shells: when a new, big­ger shell becomes avail­able, her­mit crabs gath­er around it and form a kind of queue from largest to small­est. When the largest crab moves into the new shell, the sec­ond biggest crab moves into the new­ly vacat­ed shell, there­by mak­ing its pre­vi­ous shell avail­able to the third crab, and so on.”

    So you see, growth becomes a pos­si­bil­i­ty for an entire com­mu­ni­ty if one mem­ber takes on the task of find­ing a new shell!

    Hope you don’t mind how I played with our con­ver­sa­tion and thanks again for that glass of wine! It’s fab­u­lous to see you back on the web. I’ll total­ly look for­ward to see­ing your fur­ther take on being “between shells.”

    All the best

  • Hoda Maalouf (@MaaHoda) wrote:

    Dear Dan,
    You said: “I turned off that music. I sat qui­et­ly in my own rocky perch. The moment had depth and open­ness to it. Maybe also a lit­tle vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. What a per­fect­ly mag­nif­i­cent place to be. The next tick­et could wait, maybe for a long time.”
    And I feel now the same once I read this beau­ti­ful post and saw these mag­nif­i­cent pictures!
    It’s almost 5 am in the morn­ing and I’m read­ing this post. It’s dark out­side and every­one is sleep­ing, it’s qui­et and serene and I feel hap­py to be here, read­ing this and hav­ing a qui­et moment with myself.
    And the next tick­et can wait, prob­a­bly for just an hour!

    Thank you for let­ting us share your jour­ney, your thoughts and expec­ta­tions in this beau­ti­ful post!


  • Dear Hoda

    It is so love­ly of you to to take moment of your morn­ing peace to write. I know the time and the feel­ing you describe, when the dai­ly world has not yet awak­ened. Thank you for notic­ing that we can be between sto­ries at many times and in many ways, drink­ing it in, fresh water from the well. 

    Much appre­ci­a­tion!

  • Beau­ti­ful post, Dan! Thanks for remind­ing us so poet­i­cal­ly of the val­ue of the moment, and how the ever-present urgency can be such a joykill.

  • Dear Blair

    The trag­ic part of the joykill is how eas­i­ly it creeps in and with­out our notice overwhelms. 

    It is so good — and so need­ed — to find our own moments of renewal. 

    Thank you, Blair. I always enjoy how you express things. In this case “joykill” is the per­fect word for con­stant, unneed­ed urgency. 

    All the best

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