"The Road Within" by Bodhi Smith

 
oh
why am i
so all alone?
and who am i?
and where am i?
and just how did i
find myself right here?
this lonely pathway which i
have needed to walk is so long
however, the road within which i
must journey is much, much longer
travelling inside me is where i
must go in order to find
that person which i
truly only know as
who i am,
why i am
myself,
me
 
MY THOUGHTS 
I don't know where I'm going, but I sure know where I've been. Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday, and I've made up my mind: I ain't wasting no more time. Here I go again, here I go again ― Whitesnake, Here I Go Again.
 
"The Road Within" is a pathway into self-discovery of ourselves, looking deeply into the understanding we have within each of us about who exactly we are, and what the bigger meaning of our life is, as we knowingly journey down the road within, that road we know we need to follow, walk the walk, and go to where we need to be…And...The road within this photo is a metaphor for me and my life. You see, taking a journey into this photo is like travelling inside of me. This road is a metaphor of my chosen life--where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going...These past few years, I've more or less constantly been on my way, on the road within, always leaving and never arriving at who I really am...
 
The road within, it's the only road to happiness in this life ― Bodhi, The Road Within
 
"Within" is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
1. to the inside of (something)
2. not further off than (time or distance)
 
I can dissect this photographic scene as a metaphor for me even further...
 
The road within is meandering through the countryside, taking its time, enjoying the grass, flowers, and trees. The oak on the left of the road is full of life and leaves--symbolizing who I used to be. While in stark contrast, the oak on the right of the road is older, losing its youth and vibrance with its life winding down--symbolizing who I'm becoming...
 
The road within is infinite, endlessly long, but there's only so much time, a finite amount, to explore it ― Bodhi, The Road Within
 
And the road's heading directly into a foreboding storm. Yet, the clouds overhead are so beautiful, so welcoming in their seemingly motherly attributes. However, I know that the only other times I've ever seen these kinds of mesmerizing clouds (known as mammatus clouds), there's always been a tornado touch down nearby. They're truly harbingers of severe weather striking very soon, and as such, they're here in my heavens to warn me. And to add some extra assurance, there's also a bolt of lightning right in the middle of my path, far in the distance, thundering off another warning shot at me...
 
But what is the road within warning me about?
 
Lately, things for me have been difficult. I'm getting older and older, and it's hard to come to grips with the fact I just cannot do all the things I was able to do when I was younger. I'm also not as attractive and athletic as I used to be. I feel like a shadow of my former self, and struggle with these certainties of my mortality. I have a tough time finding "me" some days when I wake up all alone and look into the mirror at my reflection...
 
And as I stand there looking into the abyss, I can clearly hear Whitesnake singing "Here I Go Again" directly to me, loud and fuckin' clear...
 
Because I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams. So here I go again on my own. Going down the only road I've ever known, like a drifter, I was born to walk alone... ― Whitesnake, Here I Go Again.
 
As I look at myself in the mirror, Besos (my Ausssie Shepherd doggie) is sitting right beside me looking up at me. Right on que, he turns his head sideways with his ear curled, and then flips it opposite sideways, looking at me quizzically, as if he hears the song too. So damn cute, I break out a huge smile and chuckle...I'm extremely grateful to have Besos in my life. I'm deeply thankful in knowing I have a beautiful fur-baby to keep me company. Having such a spiritual soul to connect with, and love and be loved unconditionally is a priceless necsssity in my life right now...
 
But being with Besos is quite different from being around people. Most of my friends live in other states. I'm really an only child and I have barely any family left, and soon they'll be gone as they are getting older and older than I am. And long gone are all the girlfriends, now all I have is a long list of ex's and a bunch of oh-no's. Seems now all those paper towels on my rack from a once filled roll are almost all gone...
 
Look at the road within to find peace and love, you with not find it without ― Bodhi, The Road Within
 
"Stay positive dummy"...But as I've reflected about myself before, I'm one giant little oxymoron...
 
Indeed, I full-heartedly embrace being alone. I cherish the unspoiled solitude, peace and love I can count on to find within myself.  But damn, sometimes I struggle with being alone, it just gets so awful lonely these days. I long for the intimate touch of an affectionate lady in my world with whom to enjoy sunsets and sunrises, and all the moments in between. But as the sands of the hourglass keep falling relentlessly, the prospects of finding her seem to dwindle every passing day, and these days are just flying past so fast lately. And when I look within, I know why, as that unforgiving reflection of myself scares me...how did I get so damn unlovable?
 
Maybe it's all because I just cannot make up my mind as to what I really want...
 
When I look deeper inside me, I contemplate who I am and who I've become, both of which I am happy with. It's just that I struggle with what it is exactly that I want. I keep journeying down the road within me hoping to figure it out, but the answer eludes me like and evasive name that's a whisp floating on the breeze which I just can't seem to remember no matter how hard I try...
 
And there's that song again...
 
Though I keep searching for an answer, I never seem to find what I'm looking for. Oh, Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on, because I know what it means... ― Whitesnake, Here I Go Again.
 
I confuse myself, getting lost in the dilemma of an oxymoron that I know I am...
 
I truly enjoy my time alone...but I know, the more of a loner I become, the more I alienate others I might meet....And I love where I live in California, but it isolates me from other loved ones in my life over 2500 miles away....And I enjoy being able to do anything I want, free from any grief or strife I might receive from my decisions if I had a girlfriend beside me....And it's wonderful to be able to share my impressions of my journeys with others through my photography, sharing all the magical and beautiful places around this planet I get to see....Yet I miss sharing all these wonderful experiences in my life travels intimately one-on-one with another, the lady of my dreams. So here I am alone, walking along the lonely street of dreams. I know she's out there somewhere, but she's also here inside on the road within...
 
No matter where you go, there you are ― Gautama Buddha
 
I will keep going on my journey of self discovery. Because I must, because the road within is purely endless. It's infinitely long, but my time here is finite and short. And I'm running out of time. But I know to know me, there's no other path, it's my only road to happiness in this life...
 
Patience visited me
And it reminded me
That good things take time to come to fruition
And grow slowly with stability
 
Peace visited me
And it reminded me
That I may remain calm through the storms of life
Regardless of the chaos surrounding me
 
Hope visited me
And it reminded me
That better times lay ahead
And it would always be there to guide and uplift me
 
Humility visited me
And it reminded me
That I may achieve it
Not by trying to shrink myself and make myself less
But by focusing on serving the world and uplifting those around me
 
Kindness visited me
And it reminded me
To be more gentle, forgiving and compassionate toward myself
And those surrounding me
 
Confidence visited me
And it reminded me
To not conceal or suppress my gifts and talents
In order to make others feel more comfortable
But to embrace what makes me, me
 
Focus visited me
And it reminded me
That other people’s insecurities and judgements about me
Are not my problem
And I should redirect my attention
From others back to me
 
Freedom visited me
And it reminded me
That no one has control over my mindset, thoughts and wellbeing
But me
 
And love visited me
And it reminded me
That I need not search for it in others
As it lies within me.
 
 
Striking very strong chords inside of me, this rock ballad from 37 years ago in 1987 is easily one of the best musical tunes about going down the road within on a long journey of self discovery...the lyrics resonate with me so profoundly these days as I find myself growing older and more alone..."Because I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams. So here I go again on my own, walking down the only road I've ever known. Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone..." Seriously without a doubt, it's absolutely the best song to go along with the deeper emotions and apropos meaning of my impression and blog here before you,  "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. ... (just click on any of the words in the powder blue links to listen to the tune and watch the video) ...

I don't know where I'm going
But I sure know where I've been
Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time
Here I go again, here I go again...
Though I keep searching for an answer
I never seem to find what I'm looking for
Oh, Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams
Here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time...
I'm just another heart in need of rescue
Waiting on love's sweet charity
And I'm gonna hold on for the rest of my days
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams
And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time
But here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go again
Here I go...
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams
And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
And I've made up my mind
I ain't wasting no more time
And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
'Cause I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams
And here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I've ever known
Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
 
 
 
THE SELF-DISCOVERY JOURNEY*
On the road within, it's impossible to get lost because there is no final destination, just places to stopover along the way ― Bodhi, The Road Within
 
Self-discovery is the process of understanding your true self: your values, your needs and wants, even what food you like and dislike. You might have naturally learned some of these things about yourself over time. Yet, for a lot of people, we have a way of losing touch with our values and hiding our own motivations and preferences, even from ourselves. Going deeper into self-discovery can transform your life.

It’s one thing to know your personality type or your favorite meal. But true self-discovery starts when you evaluate your life and think about what’s energizing and what's not. What will bring more joy into your life? What inspires you to jump out of bed each morning?

Once you’ve discovered more about yourself, you’ll have an easier time finding your life purpose and being your authentic self in work as well as in personal life. Understanding what’s been missing from your life will help you learn about yourself.


The most adventurous journey to embark on; is the journey to yourself. The most exciting thing to discover; is who you really are. The most treasured pieces that you can find; are all the pieces of you The most special portrait you can recognize; is the portrait of your soul ― 
C. Joybell C.


But don’t think you can finish this journey overnight. Self-discovery is an ongoing process. It requires you to dive in and examine all areas of your life and take the time to reflect. You’ll need courage and resilience to stick with the process — in the process of looking inward, you may learn things about yourself that you find hard to accept.

Discovering your inner self also requires lots of self-awareness, otherwise known as self-knowledge. Self-knowledge usually refers to your knowledge of your own feelings, beliefs, and desires. If you have more of this in your life, you’ll have better emotional regulation. This will help you better your personal and work relationships and improve your stress management.

Knowing more about the way your mind works also improves your empathy, helps you exercise better self-control, be more creative, and have higher self-esteem. You’ll even be more honest as a result.

There are endless benefits to learning how to start a self-discovery journey. The important thing is to take the first step and get started.

And the prospect of embarking on a journey of self-discovery might feel quite intimidating. Where do you even begin? The steps to self-discovery aren’t set in stone. That means you can start with whatever action feels right for you. Remember that having the courage to begin this journey is already admirable, so keep that momentum going.


And you? When will you begin that long journey on the road into yourself? ― Jalaluddin Rumi, Poems of Ecstasy and Longing

Here are 11 tips you can follow to learn how to discover yourself:
  1. Work to be your best self each day, no matter what you’re doing
  2. Take risks and try new things
  3. Hone in on your passions and what makes you excited
  4. Understand your strengths and think about how you can apply them everywhere
  5. Start journaling your thoughts so you can reflect on them later
  6. Make sure you surround yourself with people who support you
  7. Learn from your mistakes and move on
  8. Think back to your childhood and connect with your inner child again
  9. Be curious and ask questions
  10. Build habits that support your personal growth and goals
  11. Practice positive self-talk and reward yourself for your wins
Knowing how to begin self-discovery is only the first step. In this process, you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone and ask yourself some hard questions. As you start, feel proud of yourself. It’s never too late to become more in touch with yourself and you’ll be so grateful you took the leap.
 
No matter where you go, there you are ― Gautama Buddha
 
*Entire Section courtesy of Elizabeth Perry, Content Marketing Manager, ACC of BetterUp (3100 E 5th Street, Suite 350, Austin, TX 78702)

 
Here is another perfect ditty to go along with my impression and blog today...This classic from 53 years ago in 1971 is such a beautiful song with heartfelt lyrics by a musical legend...It's a tune about how metaphorical roads (like the road within) and physical roads (like the country dirt road pictured here) can equally take us home to where we feel we belong, both in spirit and in body together...  "Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver. ... (just click on any of the words in the powder blue links to listen to the tune and watch the video) ... and if you like to give it a listen, here's a really cool gem of a reggae cover of John Denver's classic: "Jamaica Nice--Take Me Home, Country Roads" by Yellowman (John Denver Cover). 
 
Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads
All my memories gather around her
Miner's lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads
I hear her voice in the morning hour, she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
Driving down the road, I get a feeling
That I should've been home yesterday, yesterday
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads
Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads
Take me home, (down) country roads
Take me home, (down) country roads
 
 
 
SOME APROPOS QUOTES
I don't know where I'm going, but I sure know where I've been. Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday, and I've made up my mind: I ain't wasting no more time. Here I go again, here I go again...Though I keep searching for an answer, I never seem to find what I'm looking for. Oh, Lord, I pray you give me strength to carry on, because I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams. So here I go again on my own. Going down the only road I've ever known, like a drifter, I was born to walk alone... ― Whitesnake, Here I Go Again.
 
No matter where you go, there you are ― Gautama Buddha
 
I cannot control whether or not another person chooses to stay or leave. I can only control how I choose to show up each day and work towards becoming the best version of myself....And so I trust that this person is entering my life for the reason they are meant to at this time and I will treasure their company and let this connection unfold in the way that it is meant to, whether it lasts for a day, a month or a lifetime....And it matters not whether they leave, as I have learned to love my own company and not need another and I will never leave myself. For this is the foundation for all positive relationships....And if I truly love another person, then I will want what is best for them, and if that is for them to not be with me, then I will let them go with love, knowing that if they are ever meant to return, they will, and if not, them leaving makes space for those who are still meant to come....And if I ever find myself missing them, I will remind myself that what I love and admire most in them also exists within me and I can be that for myself now....And every positive emotion I experienced in their presence, I created within myself and can experience just as strongly in their absence....And when they leave, it is not a reflection of my worth, it is simply that our paths are no longer aligned as we are travelling in different directions....And if I feel that they failed to truly see me or appreciate me, I will never take their actions personally and remind myself that it wasn't that they didn't love me, but they loved me from the level from which they could love ― Tahlia Hunter
 
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony ― Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi
 
You once told me
You wanted to find
Yourself in the world -
And I told you to
First apply within,
To discover the world
within you.
 
Traveling alone, you run into your insecurities and fears times ten the normal! You run into all the good things and all the bad things about yourself on a daily basis, and are allowed the opportunity to truly become your own friend. Traveling alone is a learning process; some people travel for leisure, I travel to run into myself! ― C. Joybell C.
 
The only journey is the one within ― Rainer Maria Rilke
 
Life is a valuable and unique opportunity to discover who you are. But it seems as soon as you near answering that age-old question, something unexpected always happens to alter your course. And who it is that you thought you were, suddenly changes. Then comes the frustrating realization that no matter how long life endures, no matter how many experiences are muddled through in this existence, you may never really be able to answer the question...Who am I? Because the answer, like the seasons, constantly, subtly, inevitably changes. And who it is you are today, is not the same person you will be tomorrow ― Richelle Goodrich, Eena-The Dawn and Rescue
 
Self discovery is the most empowering experience of your life. You remember who you are, and you become the best version of yourself. But what they forget to tell you is, to get to a point of pleasure you must face the pain ― Niki Rowe
 
Self-transformation commences with a period of self-questioning. Questions lead to more questions, bewilderment leads to new discoveries, and growing personal awareness leads to transformation in how a person lives  ― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls
 
The path to self-discovery is not a straight line. It’s a zigzag. We move in and out of awareness: one step forward, three steps to the left, a baby step back, another leap forward. A lightbulb moment might shine brightly one day, but then flicker the next. It takes work to hold tightly to a certain consciousness, to live in its wisdom. Every day, I have to intentionally maintain an awareness of my value ― Alicia Keys, More Myself: A Journey
 
During my life journey I've discovered an interesting thing; once you stop seeking outside, you discover what already resides within ― Rasheed Ogunlaru
 
There is a journey that’s waiting for you, you will make great discoveries, you will find treasures and hidden powers, it’s a journey divinely design just for you, Today be brave in self-love and start the journey within yourself, There God is waiting to show you his masterpiece of love ― Micheline Jean Louis
 
We're on a road to nowhere, come on inside. Taking that ride to nowhere, we'll take that ride ― Talking Heads, Road to Nowhere.
 
Step into the fire of self-discovery. This fire will not burn you. It will only burn what you are not ― Jalaluddin Rumi, Music and Silence of the Heart
 
So come, return to the root of the root of your own soul. The road that leads within is endless. Go without head and feet and you'll already be there. What else could you be? You are That ― Jalaluddin Rumi, Words of Paradise
 
 
 
SPECIFICS ABOUT THIS PHOTO
So here I am alone. I know she's out there somewhere, but she's also here inside on the road within...  ― Bodhi, The Road Within
 
This impression was created in the early evening on July 27th, 2023 as storm clouds were building over the plains of Oklahoma...pictured here are rare mammatus clouds hovering over a country dirt road near Sallisaw, Oklahoma... 
 
Mammatus clouds get their name from the Latin word "mamma" which means "udder" or "breast" from the simple fact they look like mammary glands of certain mammals. These types of clouds most often form on the underbelly of giant supercell cumulonimbus clouds. The distinct "lumpy" undersides are formed by cold air sinking down to form the pockets, which is contrary to the puffs of clouds rising through the convection of warm air in a cumulonimbus cloud. Mammatus clouds are exoticlly beautiful clouds, but are usually harbingers of dangerous conditions existing in the heavens. For me, the only times I've ever seen them, there have always been threats of tornadic weather, with a tornado usually touching down somewhere nearby as the storm front moves eastward...
 
To be able to get the effects you see here (as well as stay true to myself with my own unique style of photography), I needed to capture two separate exposures in the same frame and focal length (one of the mammatus clouds/lightning, and another one of the country road/surrounding fields), all-the-while knowing later I'd be merging them together into one single composition using layers in Adobe Photoshop CC...
 
In my photography, I always use filters to create longer exposure effects, saturate colors naturally, and balance the light in my composition in-camera...I often use as many as four filters at time, and I always use at least one filter in my completed impressions...
 
And to get the effects and balance I was looking for in this composition, I used two ProgreyUSA Filters. along with the ProgreyUSA G-120Z Antarctic Magnetic Holder. to secure these filters to my Nikon D810 with a Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 prime lens. ... 
 
Camera Settings for the country road and surrounding fields: 
The separate exposure of the road and surrounding fields (f/11@55mm for 151 seconds, ISO-64) was shot on 07-27-2023 at 8:06pm CDT, about 20 mins before sunset while the winds had eerily dropped to a dead calm (another harbinger of tornados). I used a ProgreyUSA 0.9 GND Aurora Filter. to bring the top third of the composition down 3 stops and help darken the brighter sky, creating a better in-camera balance in the overall image with the foreground of the image, especially to help permit details in the shadows of the trees and grass to come out better in the exposure ...coupled with a ProgreyUSA 3.0ND Antarctic Magnetic Filter. to stop down the image 10 stops and permit for the long 151 second exposure at f/11 to create a softness in the mammatus clouds while at the same time help to naturally saturate all the red, green, & blue (RGB) hues in the image...
 
Camera Settings for Mammatus Clouds and Lightning strike: 
The separate exposure of the mammatus clouds and lightning strike (f/11@55mm for 4seconds, ISO-64) was shot on 07-27-2023 at 8:30pm CDT right around sunset as a surreal darkness was quickly surrounding me. No filters were necessary in this exposure, so none were used...
 
The two images were then merged together using layers in Adobe Photoshop CC...
 
I wish to openly thank my sponsors who have always supported me through both the good and bad times...for truly this long exposure impression would not be possible without the use of my Induro PHQ3 Series 5-way Panhead with an Induro (now Benro) Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod. in combination with the ProgreyUSA Filters. which I use with every photo I take...
 
If nothing else...if I open my eyes, if I hope, if I cry, if I think, if I sigh, if I giggle, if I dance, if I love, if I breathe, then I have lived a full days worth of life...nothing is wasted, nothing ― Bodhi, If
 
Contemplate without thinking. Be certain only in your uncertainty, content to be completely incomplete. Stop the rush. Slow down time. Breathe and notice. Slow down everything. Let it all be. Shut off the noise. Hush. Relax. Seize this higher moment. Reconnect. Feel and sense what surrounds you. Listen to all the colours of light whisper as they envelope you. See the melody and harmony that float about unnoticed. Taste the solitude of all this wonderment. Smell the beautiful silence. Now discover your peaceful serenity. Then, reach out and touch your faith with all your senses. This is my world. Awaken! ― Bodhi, My World
 
I leave you today wishing that bright joy 
and spiritual peace fill your life...
imploring you to make every moment count, 
no matter what, always and forever, 
for that is the only thing that truly matters... 
 
And above all else,
I hope this message and impression find you well.
 
Namaste,
Bodhi
-------------------------------------------------
 
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