The photo that heads this post is perhaps my very favourite new photo of myself, dear friends. It was taken by a friend after we had reached the upper fossil beds of Mt. Stephens in Yoho National Park, BC, and my furry friend is Zephron, a dog owned by a Parks Canada guide. It took me some time to figure out why exactly this photo sang to me the instant I saw it, so much so that it became my Facebook profile photo, and even the background on the laptop on which I now write. I suppose it's because in some very basic way, dear friends, it speaks to who I really am.
In the last two years I have gone through some astonishing personal changes, both physical and mental. I lost a significant amount of weight, and became fitter than I've been in my entire life. With the physical changes also came a change in the way I saw myself. I no longer saw a dowdy individual lacking in self-confidence but rather a woman who was strong and capable, in both a physical and emotional sense.
A few months ago I began the writing project that now consumes much of my time and effort. I never could have predicted what it has become, or what it now means to me. I suppose what made me realize how my self-image had changed is when a person spotted me tapping away at my laptop in my local coffee shop where I often go to write. She asked if I was reading the blog on my screen - or if, just maybe, I was the author? I paused, not sure how to respond, and finally replied that I was the author - and her excitement was a bit overwhelming. She told me she loved what I write, and that she reads it faithfully. She told me that she felt like she was meeting a local celebrity. Yes, me - a celebrity. That is a word I have never, ever thought of in conjunction with myself, not in any context, and I admit it threw me into a state of both pleasure and confusion.
It is easy to begin to believe one's own press, dear friends, and that is a topic I have discussed with people like Canadian performer Shaun Majumder. Those who suddenly find fame or notoriety often struggle to cope with it, and I worried about myself a bit in this regard. I definitely suffer from big-fish-in-a-little-pond syndrome, as I have achieved notice for my written work in a very short period of time simply due to the size and nature of my city. I feared that being called or considered a celebrity would change how I view myself yet again, and not necessarily in a positive way, either.
Every time I had that fear, though, I would look at this photo. I would see a woman who had snuck behind the Park guide's back to cuddle his dog (the guide was a quiet and rather unfriendly sort, while his dog was just the opposite as you can see). I would see a woman who had just climbed a mountain, both in the physical sense and in the mental sense of accomplishing a long-held dream. I would see a woman without any pretense, a woman who was simply existing in that moment of time, and not worrying about the future or fretting about the past. I saw me, dear friends, just me, no celebrity. Just me, and Zephron. I suppose that's why I love this photo so very much. It reminds me of who I really am, and every day when I see it I feel the warmth and joy and satisfaction I had in that moment. It was a moment when who I really am was closest to the surface, and now it exists in this photo, memorialized forever. It is, forever and always, who I really am.