The courage to reach.

It takes courage to reach out to share a piece of yourself. It takes courage to reach out to invite another to share a piece of themselves with you.

The courage to reach.
Out on the trails finding wonder in the wildness.

Last week, I wrote about the courage it takes to begin, and how my own recent beginnings have felt. What I didn’t fully get into was what happens after we begin - the unknown gifts that beginning makes possible.

These aren’t inactive things, necessarily. They are openings of opportunity that call for continued courage to step forward and reach. Courage to reach out to another person, courage to reach within ourselves, courage to reach all around us.

I experienced one of these opportunities not long after publishing that piece on beginnings.

I was out on the trails photographing wildflowers to go along with an upcoming feature for my project, The Wonder of Dogs.

As I was gazing at the various petals along the trail, a woman about my age with a dog and her father (I heard her call him “Pop”) hiked by me. I moved to the side to let them pass as they headed to a nearby bench with a beautiful view of the ocean.

I continued my gazing for a few minutes longer before walking down the same trail to make my way to another bench and lookout. As I passed by, I saw the woman sitting on one end of the bench, her father on the other, and the dog stretched across the length of space between them, rolling his head around in joy.

In that moment, something in my heart nudged me to reach out and ask if they would like a photo together. The woman said “Yes!” and handed her phone to me.

I took the first couple of photos before she said, “Actually, wait. We have Mom with us,” and reached into her backpack to pull out a beautiful wooden box. She placed the box on the bench between them, and smiled with her dog and her Pop.

And I smiled with them, feeling a deep connection to something bigger and more beautiful than could ever be planned for.

I took a few more photos, while making the squeaky noises I make when photographing dogs, and we all laughed as their dog gave some epic head tilts.

I listened as they shared some of their story, and they commented on my hoodie that says “My dog is my soulmate.”

We didn’t exchange names (except for the dog whose name is Jake) or talk for more than a few minutes. But we said enough in that short time together to connect through loss, love, nature, grief, and wonder.

And dogs.

I handed the phone back to the woman as Jake the dog gave me kisses on my palm, and we all said our goodbyes. I continued down the trail to the next lookout where I sat and let the wonder of this experience sink in.

I cried tears of gratitude for the opportunity and the courage to reach out in that moment.

Later, as I walked through the forest and back to my car, I thought about what happens when we have the courage to begin, and then to reach. And what our reaching leads to in the world.

It takes courage to reach out to share a piece of yourself. It takes courage to reach out to invite another to share a piece of themselves with you.

It takes courage to send every email, text, letter. To publish every blog post. To say hello on the trail. To call an old friend or a new friend, and ask them how they’re doing. To ask yourself how you’re doing.

When you reach, you allow your story or greeting or question to do its work. The work of becoming and belonging to another.

What a relief to no longer hold it only for yourself. What beauty to know someone else can begin reaching too. Reaching within, outward, all around. However they wish.

It’s no longer only yours to carry - the courage, the beginning, the reaching.

It’s for all of us, now.

Thank you for being here.

For beginning, for reaching, for living this journey, together.

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About the artist

Marika Moffitt is an artist and storyteller focused on expressing the spirit of dogs through photography. As the owner of SoulDog Creative in Washington state, Marika helps clients throughout the Pacific Northwest to honor their journeys with their Soul Dogs with one-of-a-kind artwork. Full of life and movement, Marika’s photographs touch deep within the heart of what it means to live the journey with the dogs we love.

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