An impromptu trip to the canyons turned out to be the highlight of a memorable trip. A memorable trip with mundane beginnings. The trappings of traveling, digitizing, and chronicling is soporific. Comfortably settled with predictable problems? Try middle class travel.
However travels, especially solo trips have almost always resulted in a changed perspective for me. Sometimes it feels like I am running away from commitments. Traveling, the act of physically moving and displacing oneself for extended periods and over long distances is one of those activities that evokes primal feelings in even the most cold-hearted of us.
I have caught many pensive faces staring out of moving vehicles.
Expressions of longing, sadness, pain, disillusionment, vague contentment. These are emotions that are deeper than, say, joy, anger or even excitement where the immediate purpose of the trip, or a recent memory, is still lodged in ones mind. Where the traveler has not yet relinquished her identity, both at the origin and at the destination.
Shrink on the Road
Ditching N for an early morning start I desperately wanted to look forward to the drive. You see it was our anniversary that day and doesn’t the world dictate anniversaries are to be spent in companionship? Long winding roads with tar chilled overnight stretched mercifully ahead. Daylight had hushed the continuous baying of the unseen nocturnal Coyotes. Now and then I could see a cottontail bounding off into a shrub. But very soon the rhythmic passing of yellow road dividers lulled me into a hypnotic state.
2 hours of motor therapy. Flat arid lands. Burning the black as you pierce through pink stone chasing the grotesquely azure sky. At one point I refused to slow down to a reasonable pace almost as if trying to push the car to its limit, an impotent and immature dare and for a brief second exhilarated at the liberation that speed offers. Too soon self preservation and conditioning moved my foot over the brakes.
An Inverted Mountain for Companionship
As I started walking along the rim of the canyon I forgot everything. Nature when unleashed does have a therapeutic effect. I walked in profile. My neck ached after a while. So I walked backwards, shuffled side-wards all the while feasting my eyes on the canyon. Taking in all the canyon offered greedily, even guiltily.
It was vertigo inducing. There was nothing stopping you from going over the edge. Two steps forward would have been enough. Just two steps. It is these unanalyzed vagaries that are seductive in humans and therefore repressed in companionship. Single people fascinate me. Especially those who have not succumbed to companionship. An insecurity to guard against old age or degeneration. A commitment to interpreting and sharing a short time on earth with one person, one idea, tethered to a stake in the ground.
What is it about the Grand Canyon, and it was truly Grand, that makes one doubt everything? Maybe it was the alien landscape. All my senses were being twisted to make place, appreciate and acknowledge a potential existence of a carefree nomadic life.
Dodging mountain goat droppings, I look at my watch with loathing. Regimented time represented a life of predictability, a return to routine, a submission to fear, an acknowledgement of my inability to grab and make my own destiny, a distinct sense of loss.
When I was there, the canyon consumed me. It made me feel alive. It made me feel vibrantly insignificant. A weightless feeling I liked and took getting used to. But it was time to return. Like any visit to a pleasure house, it is always better to walk away without turning back.
That is how I have seen it done in the westerns. That is how it should always be done.