Last Saturday was a novel packed into short story form. Wrought with hundreds of miles, arid sand, warm waves of rock, and a sky as big, blue, and clear as a tropical ocean, I’m surprised that a 24-hour period could even handle this. As my good friend, Nadine, and I rose as slowly out of bed that morning, we could feel the tug-of-war with the sun to rise with us. And so was it that 5:35 am marked the beginning of a mystical (and I do mean “mystical” – things got existential up in this B) journey to the unexplored lands of Canyon Country, Arizona.
I had been working on a project in Arizona for about three weeks, regularly getting the chance to see friends and indulge in my former stomping grounds. Spending a summer at the beach again has been lovely, but getting to see my friends in Arizona once more was a true gift. Thus, while yesterday’s trip was booked well in advance, it was perfect timing as the denouement of my desert stint.
The trip we did on Saturday was a day-long tour of the northernmost part of Arizona. We headed to Sedona on Friday night, then headed out Saturday morning to Horshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon and came back to Phoenix later that night. The latter spectacle is best known as a Windows desktop image and the backdrop to Britney Spears’ splendid 90s jaunt, “I’m Not a Girl (Not Yet a Woman)”. Seriously, this place didn’t even seem real.
The drive to our first stop, Horsheshoe Bend, took about three hours. This included a small amount of time stopping for gas, food, and knick knacks. The most notable of such knick-knacks that I found was a jar with a bear on it. The mouth, lined with teeth, was the opening. They just don’t make ’em like that anymore. Sadly, the purchase didn’t happen – remember, I have a solo trip to a foreign country to be miserly for!
I’m not sure that words are entirely going to do it here. At least full-blown descriptions won’t. What was even more striking about the journey up north was the conversation ignited by Nadine.
“How do we go to work after seeing this?”
Actually, I think this train of thought was catalyzed even sooner, when we were still on the bus. While on the way up, the bus driver briefly brought up the movie Grand Canyon. He summarized the story as something about a guy in LA who meets another guy in LA who’s different from him and at the end they go to the Grand Canyon together and realize they’re all just humans living on a giant rock. Doubtless I am oversimplifying this greatly, but until I actually see it, I will take no such responsibility for telling the proper story! Anyway, other than dealing with race/class relations in Los Angeles, the movie has an even broader message: regardless of what type of life we individually lead, our lives and our problems are infinitesimally small compared to an enormous, expansive, eons-old slice of the Earth.
I guess we felt that way here, too.
Antelope graced us with its presence at last around 1:30 in the afternoon. And, in true form of something that majestic, we only got to experience it for about an hour and a half. This, contrary to what you might think, added to the experience.
We took a second to look at the beauty that surrounded us in 360 degrees. We paused to think about our lives. There are places like this in the world, and we have concerns about e-mail, meetings, reports? Trepidation over to-do lists, anxiety over errands?
These towering red crevices have innumerable lifetimes and will continue to see more. They’ve encountered humans with every type of problem, fear, and thought. Time and experience has only allowed more light to shine through each oculus, has only allowed more colors to appear in the striations. Yet throughout our indeterminate years of life, we will cling to our problems and often let them cripple us instead of build us up. Some of these problems will barely affect a month of our lives, yet somehow we’ll find ourselves letting them negatively impact our future for years to come. I suppose the answer to why that is is a topic for another article.
I suppose when you venture out to a picturesque part of Arizona, you intend to do just that. See stuff, take pictures. I earnestly attempted to do the same, but came back impacted in a way I couldn’t have imagined. When I think about my problems, I still gulp and get a flashforward or two in shaky anticipation of the future. I still want my e-mail organized. I still hate making mistakes at work. I still think about my to-do lists.
But if my e-mail has misplaces messages, I’ll be fine. If I make a mistake, at least I learned something that day. And God forbid if something doesn’t get checked off today, I’m still here.
I’ll be here for a while.
Thought of the Day: Durian fruit smells worse than it tastes, but it still has an appalling taste.