Monday, September 30, 2013

Musings on The Grand Canyon

 You ever been to the Grand Canyon? Its pretty, but that’s not the thing of it. You can sit on the edge of that big ol' thing and those rocks... the cliffs and rocks are so old... it took so long for that thing to get like that... and it ain't done either! It happens right there while your watching it. Its happening right now as we are sitting here in this ugly town. When you sit on the edge of that thing, you realize what a joke we people really are... what big heads we have thinking that what we do is gonna matter all that much... thinking that our time here means didly to those rocks. Just a split second we have been here, the whole lot of us. That's a piece of time so small to even get a name. Those rocks are laughing at me right now, me and my worries...

Simon- So What do you think?

Mack (Takes in the Grand Canyon) I think… It’s not all bad…

From The Movie “Grand Canyon

I have a long history with The Grand Canyon.

I remember the letter I got telling me I officially had a job waiting for me there. I was barely 21 years-old, and at the time it seemed like the adventure of a lifetime was waiting for me. So I packed my beaten down little car up and hit the road. I saw Crater Lake, San Francisco, and all stops in between. I felt like a young Jack Kerouac. I was young, free, and I was on the road.

Crossing into Arizona for the first time from California, I took a look around. There were mountains on all sides, and I could see there was nothing but open road in front of me.  

I felt like my life was about to begin.

I ended up working there for about 6 months. I met all kinds of people and had all kinds of experiences. I was in awe the first time I saw the canyon. It was surreal and even a little shocking. I remember thinking, was I really here, or was this just a dream?

Invariably however, I got used to it, and sometimes on my morning walk to work, I would barely glance over at the canyon. I got desensitized to the miracle that was right in front of my eyes. Eventually I terminated my employment there, and just figured I would be back to visit someday.

Time passed, responsibilities came, and I moved all over the place trying to find my way. Eventually I started to get this nagging feeling though. Would I ever make it back to The Grand Canyon? I promised myself I would. I regretted not appreciating it more while I was there, and the pull got stronger and stronger to return. I had left something there. My idealism, some of my youth, and also my sense of appreciation for the awesome power of nature.

I wanted it back. All of it.

So today, finally, I made my return.

I thought about a lot of things in the hours I spent sitting on the rim today. It had been a lifetime since I’d been here. Literally, a lifetime. What happened? How did I get old and how did I lose so much time? Eventually though, all these regrets faded into the back of my mind, and I just started to appreciate what I was seeing again. Everything seemed small. My life, my problems, my worries. Anything seemed possible. But it was my choice. When I’m worried, or sweating the small stuff, or stressing myself about unfinished business, I’m choosing these things.

But I could also choose to remember today. A beautiful fall day in an amazing place where all of my worries seemed to wash away. I could go back here in my mind and remember, and when I did, I could leave all of my little worries and problems behind for a while.

That was my choice too…

An interesting footnote to the story was, at one time I was mildly obsessed with the movie “Grand Canyon.” The movie juxtaposed the stress and crime and fear that existed in Los Angeles with the peace and serenity of the Grand Canyon. One of the characters, Danny Glover becomes fixated on showing his friend Kevin Kline that life was not as bad as he may think, and that there were places on the earth where the world didn’t look so bad. Kline is skeptical.

They finally make it to the Canyon, and Kline has a bit of an epiphany. “It’s not all bad” he says as the movie fades to a panorama of the canyon, and we see that he has absorbed the lesson. That’s how it goes. We learn something, and then we forget it. We appreciate something for a while and then we take it for granted. We love the people in our lives,  but we forget to tell them.

Fortunately there are places on earth that can help us remember. I know I did. At least for today. I sat there for hours until the lesson sank in. Driving back across the Arizona desert, much like I did when I was a 21-year old kid so many years ago, I had one thought run through my mind, It gave me a wonderful sense of peace and contentment.

It’s not all bad.

It’s not all bad..