Was it the mountain air? The fact that we could not text or make phone calls that high up in the Arizona forest?

Was it the aura of the red rocks, of the red dirt, of the energy vortexes? Was it the mere fact that we were somewhere else entirely, so our brains and our hearts and our bodies opened up to whatever lurked beneath?

Whatever the reason, the place certainly had an effect on each and every one of us.

For the last five days, I immersed in a world not my own, with friends I’d never traveled with before, and discovered, explored and recognized that life is lived simultaneously in other places just as I live it here.

And when we venture out into a world not our own, we are different in the destination. We are different along the journey, either easing in to the lack of control or seizing up at the mere mention of it.

Everyone is different when away from home. Some good, some not so good, some entirely out of sorts because the surroundings and the environment and the air are just plain different.

So we wandered along spiritual sites and ate in gluten-free organic restaurants and sipped wine on couches that had been sat on for many, many years by other people. We slept in beds not our own, tossing in the deep dark night, remarking on the sheer number and brilliance of stars in the sky above us.

The winding roads from city to mountain retreat were slow and black-dark but there nonetheless. How were they cut into the mountain? I still can’t figure it out – our stay was literally hugged by two searing rock faces, going so much higher than we ascended.

In my humble opinion, it was worth it. The quite minutes, the different expectations, the lack of expectations, the joy of being on the ride and letting it take me wherever I would end up. Totally, completely worth it.

The exhilaration of being somewhere sort of new, of seeing it with new eyes, of experiences I wouldn’t have in a normal snow-drifted day back home. I woke up each morning and breathed in the rich scent of pine and oak and mountain and red moist dirt.

To be anywhere is a miracle. To notice the details of the moments, a gift. To drink in the air and notice its healing effects – the forest bath, as my friend Sarah called it – sheer miracle.

I loved being away.

And then, I loved coming home. For we wouldn’t know the joy of exploration without the grounding of familiar. The kids threw their arms around me to welcome me in. The gifts poured out of my suitcase. My husband smiled big.

It’s good to be loved. And in the meantime, to know love because I have loved others, I have loved the land, I have let go of planning just to be in the moment.

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