I arrived at the Grand Canyon yesterday afternoon. Alone. Just me and my car and my guitar and computer and paint and canvases and Oscar and Kea my stuffed creatures. And here's the thing. As I pulled up to the entrance and the Ranger leaned in toward the car to ask for my permit, I chocked up, unable to say a word. Finally, I said, I'm your artist in residence. Only I said it real quiet because it seemed like something I ought to whisper—I'm your artist in residence, you have invited me here to write. I have left my family behind and traveled 1400 miles and now I am here. I am finally here.
The woman smiled and waved me on, and I wandered around until I found my house, and my own personal parking space, and I pulled in and turned off the car and just sat. For five minutes I sat staring straight ahead, not at the canyon which would have been a good excuse for just staring, but at a berm. A dirty snow covered berm, not quite ready to open the car door and step out.
I felt like I once did when, at age eight, I dared myself to dive off of the high dive at the local pool. No one had taught me how, and no one was there to help me figure it out. I had just decided that I needed to meet this challenge. And part of me was delighted as I climbed that ladder, and part of me was scared. But most of me just knew this is what I had to do. Still it took me quite a long time to point my arms and head toward the water and jump.
So now I am here, and all my stuff is in the house and I have a hot mug of coffee and the Grand Canyon in front of me. When I finally went to bed last night the sky was black and the stars were bright. Then, around three in the morning the moon came out and I got up to peer at the canyon and I saw walls of indigo going back and back and back. Then this morning I went for a walk at sunrise. It was something to see - sunrise on those stone walls. I met a family from Kansas. A mother, father, three children—two, four and six years old. The kids were wrapped in blankets and still had on their slippers. They looked groggy and confused. It was cold. Why had their parents pulled them out of bed? But then the sun lit the top edge of Buddha's Temple, one of a thousand formations in the canyon, and the white Kaibob limestone shone like beacon and the littlest boy pointed and said - ahhh.
And there you go. A memory planted. A seed that could grow into an awareness that life is big and beautiful and worth getting up for, and diving into, even when your tired, or scared, or alone. Even when you worry you won't live up its challenge.
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