Seeking Simplicity on the Rim of the Grand Canyon

Maybe I want to work at the Grand Canyon because I’m in search of simplicity.  I want to escape this world of infinite access to all things.  I don’t want to be tethered to the internet twenty-four hours a day.  I don’t want people to be able to call me wherever I go whenever they want.  I want to feel lonely.  I want the freedom of isolation, the freedom to constrain myself and disconnect from the noise of the twenty-first century.  When you can do anything, when you can find pleasure, satisfy your most idiosyncratic curiosities, and indulge your every whim with the click of a button, do you really gain freedom?  What is freedom of choice when the act of choosing becomes effortless, so that one choice is no better than another? 

I want to sit over the rim of the canyon and cast my gaze at its hundreds of red islands that rise out of the dark shadows of the earth.  I want to rejoice in the knowledge that except for my friends and my family, and anyone who happens to read this blog, nobody in the world knows where I am.  Nobody knows that I’ve fallen in love with a shaft of light cutting through the clouds that glide over the canyon.  Nobody knows that in that shaft of light I find justification for my existence and compensation for my aching knees that prevent me from hiking to the bottom of this majestic canyon.  Nobody knows that in the curtain of rain I see far in the distance I read an explanation for why the world is the way it is, why on the one hand people suffer while on the other light breaks through these dark clouds and softens the jagged edges of the canyon below, paints its skin red, orange and yellow, and here and there dabs specs of green to signify the life that thrives in its cracks and folds. 

Canyonlands National Park--not the "Grand Canyon," but part of the same system of canyons carved by the Colorado River

The Grand Canyon

A Letter to Everyone and No One

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you and wonder where you are, what you’re doing, if you’ve found happiness and meaning in life, or if in the end you lost the battle.  But it isn’t only you I think about.  Not a day goes by that I don’t worry about every person I’ve ever seen in pain, whether they were a family member, a good friend, or a stranger I saw but once in my life.  Not a day goes by that I don’t worry about all the people I’ve ever cared for, that I don’t fall into a dark pit of despair where light does not reach, where only the putrid smell of death and decay rise up from the rotting ground and echoes of sadness reverberate all around me.  And as I stand there shivering and forsaken, I wonder what possible purpose there can be to this wretched life, to this sorry existence that is punctuated only here and there by moments of joy; when there are pits of oblivion like this one, when every day thousands of children starve to death all around the globe. 

But each time I manage to claw my way back up, slowly, and with great effort, until I glimpse the dim light of the world above piercing the cold darkness that surrounds me.  And once I’ve reached the surface, I fall to the ground, broken, but not defeated, and I look to the blue, cloudless sky and delight once again in the sun’s blinding rays that descend like resplendent shards of glass from the heavens.  And again, as always, I realize that life is not wretched, that there is purpose to this existence.  And I imagine, too, that you’re out there somewhere, happy, living the life you wanted.   

Shards of Light