Life has certain commands one can't ignore.
There's a thing in programming called a for loop. This kind of computer chatter uses a counter, and in the code, you find a set of characters called i++. It means increment the value of i by 1.
This is a fact today, folks. Must add 1 to 50. At 3:30 p.m., I am 51.
Am currently editing the first draft of a book I've been writing for the last long while about a trip I took last summer across the United States and back. Exactly a year ago today I was in Flagstaff, Arizona. I left my rented room located in a reasonably seedy, smoke-smelling hotel at 6:30 a.m. and motored west on Rt. 40, then north on 64 to spend the day at the Grand Canyon.
"The Canyon is ahead. Can see a part of the bucket that holds its depth. I have a large coffee with cream contained in styrofoam, and I hold to my face, rest it against my cheek. Its warmth comforts me, for now, I am crying. I cannot believe that I have made it here, this long way, this 50, this far. I am not sad I have left the East, am away from everyone I have ever known. Back there some simply consider me a dead man's woman. I am so much more than that. Today I do not need a party, but to see the magnificence of something inexplicable. And I will get there in a small blue car."
At the Grand Canyon, I paid my admission fee, got a map and drove to the South Rim. I stopped, pulled the parking brake tight, and opened the door.
"I heard yapping. That incessant human blather. Men with camcorders ignoring their children, made-up women in capris talking about shopping, children fighting for the attention of the people who birthed them, those humans self-absorbed for their own sanity in other matters. I simply walked, only to be surrounded by the noise of others as we neared the fence of the South Rim."
"As soon as we saw it, everybody shut up. Even the babies stopped crying. We were in earth's church. Its hymn is silence."
I don't know how long I sat there, on that hard rock, in the 107 degree heat. Maybe it was a few minutes, or a couple of hours. I never looked at my watch. Eventually I walked back to the Bug, unlocked the door, turned the key, and motored out of the parking lot towards the East Rim.
"Along the way, I saw a coyote. He was running along the side of the road, looking back over his shoulder. He didn't look scared, but disgusted. Why are all these people here? I also saw a biker couple in argument, pulled off in a small turnabout. Face to face, their quarrel was a circle. She took a swing at him. He pulled back. She missed. He laughed."
I pulled into a turnoff uninhabited by others. I sat on a rock wall and contemplated this:
"I sat for a long time. There was no sound. In that place, I heard what it is like to feel empty, and it felt familiar. But the silence was broken by a caw and a black flash."
"The Trickster. He flew past me, a few inches from my face, circled around and landed on the rock wall about a foot away from where I sat. He had yellow eyes, sharp beak, purple-black feathers. He wasn't afraid of me, and seemed curious. Perhaps he was looking for food. I had none to give him. He faced me and considered me for a while, then turned and looked at the Canyon. He stood there, and I continued to sit."
"Some think the raven to be a bird of death, toting only destruction and darkness. But in the spirit world he is the protector bird. His visit brings resolution of opposites. In dark there is light. Dying is necessary for rebirth, and renewal means something must be destroyed. Death can mean depth. Our actions can be ones that build idols, the experiences that never change or evolve. How many of us get caught in lives that have grown old, but we persist in protecting them, as we think it is truth and the only thing that can exist? "
So we simply sat there, the bird and I, and looked at the rock wonder, like two old friends sitting on a park bench, losing all track of time.
IMAGE: by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie. Part of mural located on interior wall of the Desert View Watchtower, East Rim, Grand Canyon.