Thursday, April 12, 2012

Repeats and Reminders

Sitting down in the cafe here at the Yavapai Lodge at the Grand Canyon this morning, a bus boy asked, "How is your vacation going?" Seeing as this is the last day of that vacation, it felt like the right question to be asked. I told him that it was going very, very well and then asked him how work was going. He said that it was fine so far.

Today, Chris and I drive away from the Grand Canyon back to Phoenix to visit with his brother and then to catch a plane home. (I say this as Chris sits across from me wondering why the airline isn't listing our return flight and swearing poetically about it as he goes. Hope springs eternal.) Last night, the weather turned cold here and there is frost on all the rooftops and cars this morning. Were this yesterday, I would be concerned about hiking. As it is, our hike yesterday went off in perfect weather. Today, we're not hiking, we're driving, so the weather is just right.

That's about how the trip has gone with the exception of dealing with things here at the Yavapai Lodge, a place I can't even come close to recommending to anyone. Other than this hotel, the trip has been easy and magnificent. Easy in that Chris and I don't have trouble traveling together (haven't had trouble doing much of anything together for 43 years) and magnificent because, well, we've been in Zion and the Grand Canyon.

Before I left on this trip my therapist asked what I hoped for. I didn't know then, but I know a lot more now. I was hoping to be impressed, to encounter things that pulled me outside of myself. The first day in Zion it was the view of the cliffs that started me laughing and the heights of Angels Landing that put me in fear and awe, then it was the Subway that had me standing silently staring in wonder, then it was the Narrows and the otherworldly feeling of hiking in water. And yesterday it was hiking into an impossible canyon so deep I couldn't reach the bottom and get back to the top in one day.

Last night I wrote about how so much ceased to matter when I went below the rim of the canyon. I want to be sure that I carry some of that forward into today as we drive south and then fly east. I want to carry a lot of it forward as I pick up and spin each of my children around. I want to carry forward that feeling as I hold tightly to Stephanie and feel love engulf me again and again.

I'm not naive about this. I realize that Monday morning I will have to go to work again. That's alright. There are ways to make work more like this trip and I have some energy to find them. I know too that the mundane activities of the house -- cleaning the cat litter, shopping for groceries, doing load after load of laundry -- will definitely not feel like hiking up to the top of Angels Landing in Zion. Still, like the dusting of frost on the rooftops this morning, there are ways to have the vacation linger in my mind throughout the rest of my times.

You've heard this story before, right? It's the old, "Carry Christmas in your heart throughout the year" speech usually uttered by some unbearably cute kid. I'm sorry. I'm repeating old cliches.

But I need to repeat truths to myself in order to make them physical, real, tangible and immediate. I have to remind myself that being outside in nature trumps being inside with the television, that sharing friendship beats isolation, that love is more powerful than the Colorado River but is just as easily dammed, and that wonders abound and it is worth letting go and simply accepting whatever I feel about it.

There's nothing new there. Nothing profound. Therer is just the simple truths of things. Yet, in the coming months I will be assaulted by the Trayvon Martin case, the ridiculous game-show election cycle, and a thousand other nuisances disguised as things that matter. Sure, each of those things will have their place, but in terms of who I am and how I live, there's no real need for them to dominate my attention. There's nothing new in what I'm thinking, it's just a repeat, a reminder to me to always go outside and take a walk.

That or write on.