The day was hot and thick with smoke, the type of smoke that seeps into your skin and clouds your thoughts. There’s a fire burning west of Dixon named the Magpie Rock Fire, and they say it’s around 1,000 acres, but the smoke is too thick for helicopters to get an accurate size estimate. There’s another fire burning near Polson named the Horseshoe Fire, and that one’s about 20 acres. I used to crave the smokey air and the burning earth. Now I crave relief, a short break from this eternal nightmare of death and despair.

I expect more hot and hazy days, more days filled with introspection and doubt. I feel doubt whenever I listen to my inner critic, that voice in my head that tells me I’m not a good writer, that I’m a mediocre photographer, that I shouldn’t be publishing my thoughts online because no one cares. I remind myself to keep writing anyway, to keep taking pictures, because I’m not doing this for anyone or for anything other than the sheer joy of it, something to take me out of the world for a bit and into something better.

The road ahead might be hazy, but I know if I keep walking I’ll get to where I need to go eventually.