The wind tugged playfully at my hair and the cold nipped at my redding cheeks. I pulled my scarf tighter around my neck and ran down the airplane stairs onto the tarmac. I had never felt more invigorated. I took a deep breath of the mountain air, letting it fill my lungs and mingle inside of me. I looked up at the towering mountains, and suddenly I felt microscopic in comparison to the vast expanse of nature I was surrounded by. My friends tried to urge me to come inside the warm airport, but I could not tear myself away from the magnificence of the mountains. I was immersed in the beauty as the land went from flat, to suddenly jagged. The plains turned into rocky forest and the shadows the rocks cast looked like creatures out of fairytales. There was even a powder sugar like sprinkle of snow crowning the top of the mountain range.
Some of my classmates and I had flown to Wyoming for a painting workshop where we would learn to recreate landscapes from real life. The world around us as we wove through the curvy mountain road seemed to me a huge painting, everything placed beautifully by a masterful artistic hand. The bright forest of red and yellow popped against the backdrop of the stark grey Teton mountains. The herd of buffalo we passed were a deep, rich brown upon the yellowing grass. We stopped at a small lake, the mountain range reflected on its still, picturesque, glasslike surface. I gasped with excitement and scrambled as quickly as I could from the car, noting how many new experiences I had been privilege to that day. Not only had I seen mountains for the first time, but by the lake, there was still snow on the ground! Being from Houston Texas, where our winters sometimes reach a staggering low of fifty degrees, I had only seen snow in movies. I pressed my hand into it, and let the cold bite into my skin. I made a little snowman, threw some poorly made snowballs at my friends, and even ate some!
We dropped our bags off at the quaint Black Bear Inn, took our easels into the mountains and attempted to capture the beauty of the surrounding wilderness. While many of my classmates succeeded in rendering beautiful pieces of art, the new setting created an entire host of challenges I had never previously encountered, and chaos ensued. My long hair blew around, getting into my paint until I tucked it into my scarf. The sharp wind would often push over our easels, and once it even carried my canvas into the nearby stream. When I thought that painting outside couldn’t get any more difficult, it began to rain. It dribbled down my canvas preventing my oil paint from sticking, and soaked my backpack. Exasperated I sat down on a rock, glaring at my failed work, my mood dropping.
Suddenly something white landed on my eyelash, I looked up and realized it had begun to snow. I caught a snowflake on my tongue, and to began to again see the beauty around me. I realized then that it is what we focus on that is important. Whether we are in the beautiful mountaintops, or right at home there will always be negative and positive things we can choose to see. My muddled painting, and the glistening snow behind it helped me to remember that sometimes we simply have to step beyond our failures, or the negative aspects we could choose to focus on and go play in the snow.
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