Mario Villalobos


I felt hesitant to go to the park yesterday because I’ve gone so many times before and I didn’t know if I’d find anything I hadn’t shot before. I was wrong. Beauty is everywhere—in the trees, on the ground, in people—and a consistent habit helps reinforce that truism.

I daydreamed I was learning French again, saying the basics like, je suis and je m’appelle and remembering how intoxicating it is to say je pense que tu es belle. I dream of one day walking the streets of Paris as a pedestrian with new friends and new memories. One day.

One of the benefits of wearing a mask outside is the fact that it hides my face. I’m so scared of vulnerability that I hide so much of myself from the world just to feel safe. But it’s not until I take my mask off that I truly feel like myself. Vulnerability is power.

When I was a wildland firefighter, I loved spending weeks sleeping in my tent with nothing but the essentials. Since retiring, I’ve grown used to superfluity. My dilemma is figuring out if I have the strength to get rid of what I don’t need for a life spent on the road.

Last night I made more adjustments to my website. I’m reminded of my time in high school when I first learned HTML and Photoshop. I remember staying up all night creating a custom header image so I could post it on my old Xanga blog. Glad to see not much has changed.

There’s a lovely young girl in first grade that loves to call me “Mar Mar.” Every time she sees me, she yells, “Mar Mar!” and runs up to me and gives me a hug. It is one of the absolute best parts of my job. I love it so much.

When I first moved to Montana, all the provisions I needed fit in two bags. Now, when I look around and see all the new stuff I’ve gathered over the years, I feel a need to declutter and simplify. But I also a feel proud of how far I’ve come. Hmm.

Other than living within the borders of my country, state, and town, I’ve been living within my own mental borders, too. By living within my comfort zone, I’ve missed opportunities and let life flow by. One day I’ll travel again, but I can expand these other borders now.

Our first winter snowfall came last month, but it’s been nothing but rain since. More members of our staff are in quarantine after a possible positive case among the administrative staff, and I just hope we can get through winter safely.

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