Prompt from Dec 25: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

I’m sitting on a dune in The Empty Quarter, Rub’ Al Khali, in the early morning. Here’s the initial thought process that happens when I look at this photo:

–dear god woman do something about your hair because that ponytail loopy thing does not work. or if you’re going to insist on that particular hair arrangement, then let’s do something about the increasingly nixonian jowl.

–while you’re at it, let’s work on the backfat, too, shall we? and you should perhaps overcome your loathing of bra shopping and find one that fits. And then while you’re shopping for a bra, why don’t you also see if you can find a replacement for that mangy white t-shirt that clings so attractively to every ripple of your late-mid-forties mid-section.

–nice sneakers, too. is it so much to ask that you dress like a grownup?

And that, my friends, is why I hate pictures of myself. That particular feedback loop gets really tiresome–and occurs very nicely on its own, even without visual stimulus, thanks very much.

But now I’m going to try a paradigm shift and look at this picture more generously–as a “present” for myself.

–This picture was taken by Husband during a magical walk that we took on the dunes with both boys, who were delighted to be playing in the biggest sandbox they’d ever seen. All of us, in our own ways, were feeling the enchantment of the desert; we spent more than an hour running and climbing and, yes, sitting quietly taking in the silence.

–I’m holding a camera, which reminds me that a long time ago, in a faraway land called “youth,” I loved taking photographs and sometimes even took a few that were quite good. I’d like photography to be a bigger part of my future life.

–I’m outside, in a beautiful place, and that reminds me that getting out of the city–even if only to the Hudson Riverpark–makes me happy.

–I want to remember the peace of this place–the silence, the infiniteness–for those moments (hours, days, weeks, the entire month of February) when the apartment walls start to close in.

–And, finally, this picture reminds me that adventure is good for the soul.