Finding Stillness in Shirley Canyon



It may be ironic, or just timely, but after writing about how hard it was for me to do nothing yesterday, I think I actually achieved it today! And all by accident.

Last week, I was asked by fellow yogi and photographer, David Renaud, to be part of a series of profiles he is taking of people doing yoga. He has shot most of the yoga teachers in Tahoe, and I was flattered he asked me. His goal is to snap pictures of at least 100 people, and I was to be number 25. Sounded lucky. All of his photos are taken outdoors with some part of Tahoe as the background. I suggested we shoot in Shirley Canyon in Squaw Valley, where I knew the many waterfalls would be in full bloom with the spring snow melt.

Well, Shirley Canyon was absolutely stunning. We arrived around 10 a.m. and did a short hike in to find a good spot for shooting. We could hear the creek and waterfalls before we even saw them. When we finally stopped to set up, the creek was roaring so load we couldn’t hear each other if we were more than a few feet away. I stood on some granite boulders with a large waterfall behind me. The scene is so picturesque and perfect in Shirley Canyon that it almost looks fake, like a ride at Disneyland: clear mountain water pouring over fallen logs and huge rocks, some waterfalls ending in calm pools, others churning into gushing rapids. You almost have to knock on the boulders to make sure they’re not constructed out of paper mache.

I have heard a lot about photo shoots from Siig, whose passion is filming. He’s told me that a huge part of it is sitting around while the photographer finds the right angle, the right light, the right moment. Well, he was right. But you know what? I absolutely enjoyed it. I found myself standing on a boulder with the warm sun on my face, staring at the beautiful snow-covered mountains of Squaw Valley, listening to the deafening plunge of the waterfall behind me. Sometimes I would hold a pose while David shot, other times I just waited. But it didn’t matter. It was so beautiful and calming and relaxing.

And then I had a realization – at moments, I was doing nothing. Just standing in nature, being still. And that was enough. It reminded me of a saying I have pinned to my bulletin board: “What you are doing is the most beautiful thing.” Maybe I should look at that more often.


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