This blog and lesson came to me when I was in Moab, but I am only just now getting around to writing it down as my journey has been filled with wonderful excursions to remote places with little to no internet service and I have spent a lot of time visiting friends and meeting new people. This lesson was so important and it keeps recurring every day that I feel the need to backtrack and post it now.
I went to Moab for two reasons: to visit Arches again and to see John Weisheit, the Colorado Riverkeeper, an activist and a historian who cares deeply about our environment. The visit with John was great and I will be writing an article about what I have learned from all the Riverkeepers I am meeting when I return home. Arches was wonderful as well, though I missed seeing Delicate Arch which I was saving for the last morning. This missed opportunity was the impetus for this blog.
The evening I arrived in Moab from Grand Junction, there was a full moon which added to the drama of the surreal landscape.
|Sunset over the Lasalle Mountains ©Lynne Buchanan|
|Full Moon over Balanced Rock ©Lynne Buchanan|
I remembered immediately why I love Arches. I spent the evening wandering around the Windows section until there was no light left, except the light of the moon and even then it was hard to go back to my cabin.
|Arches in Moonlight ©Lynne Buchanan|
The next day I hiked the Devils Garden Trail to Landscape Arch, Navajo Arch, Private Arch and back through the wilderness area. The hike was wonderful, especially the more remote section, as our National Parks have become pretty crowded and it is nice to experience some solitude in these majestic places. (When I return to Florida, I will process some of the photographs I took on the hike at post them on my website.) Later that afternoon, I met with John and then I photographed the sunset again.
On the way back to my cabin from the park, the indicator malfunction lamp came on in my Prius. I checked the manual and it said to take it to a dealer right away. My heart sank. I knew it would be a bad idea to drive into Arches for the sunrise in the morning, because it was a fairly long drive and I knew I had to get from Moab to Salt Lake City that day and I had to find someone to check and hopefully fix the car. If you have ever been to Moab you know the likelihood of finding someone to repair a hybrid is pretty slim. I went to sleep consoling myself that I had seen Delicate Arch several times before and I would see it again someday.
The next morning I woke up and looked out the window. I saw a couple of beautiful clouds forming and my disappointment grew. I wanted to be at Delicate Arch so badly–especially if there were clouds in the sky. What an added bonus that would be. I contemplated driving anyway. but I knew I wouldn't make it in time and it might be dangerous. (Turns out it was and I had an active fuel leak, which the mechanic in Moab did not detect and I did not discover until I went to the dealer in Salt Lake.) I felt horrible, like I was missing something really, really great, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I went back inside the cabin and made a cup of coffee. Then I went out on the porch to check the sky again. It was amazing.
|Sunrise Over Moab Rim ©Lynne Buchanan|
Yes, I was in a campground, and yes this sunrise was taking place over an inhabited area and not the pristine National Park (which is usually populated with lots of people and not totally isolated anyway), but my circumstances didn't make this sunrise any less worthy. It was beautiful and special and I realized then that I would be a fool if I did not enjoy it fully, which for me often involves photographing what I'm seeing. I got my camera and my tripod and made this image 10 feet from the cabin door. The sky was putting on an incredible show. Did I still want to be at Delicate Arch? Honestly, yes. Sometimes there are places and people we want to be with and we know it will be magical, but for one reason or another that is not where we are right now. I can still dream of going to Delicate Arch in the future and there is nothing wrong with that, unless it means I am unable to appreciate the gifts I am given each moment. This beautiful sky taught me the lesson of embracing the moment and experiencing its magic, even when it isn't the magic I was expecting in the place and time I had pictured. The memory of this sunrise reminds me of this important lesson every day.
Sometimes, being an Aries and firstborn child, I am a little dense and stubborn. Life has to teach me very explicit and lengthy lessons and the sky did not disappointment me. It probably knew that one burst like the image above wouldn't be enough. The campground I was staying at was up by the top of the rim, so I had a 360 degree view and the sun worked it's magic all around me. First I saw it light up the rim in the distance. The rock turned beautiful pinks and purples and watching one section after the next become illuminated was captivating. It was like some supreme being was directing its attention on each new place, bringing it to life.
|Lighting up the Rim ©Lynne Buchanan|
As my excitement grew, I realized that it was going to light up the canyon wall right behind where I was staying. I wondered if I would be able to get closer, so I grabbed my camera and tripod and began running towards the back of the campground. Fortuitously there was an empty field, so I went running through it and arrived in time to see the wall turn the most beautiful golds I have ever seen as the sun hit it–an alchemical transformation that was beyond belief.
|Canyon Wall ©Lynne Buchanan|
When everything was illuminated and this particular sunrise show was over, I went back and had another cup of coffee and thought about what I had experienced that morning. I gave thanks that I was able to put aside my disappointment and appreciate the moment. I also realized that if I hadn't been able to do that in this incredible place, something would have to be seriously wrong with me. Yet, so much of the time we build up expectations. We think we should have arrived somewhere that we haven't come to yet. Things will be better in the future, somewhere else, in someone else's shoes, if we weren't sick, broke, unknown, single, married, too young, too old whatever it is. And while we are envisioning this perfect reality that is not yet here, we miss little miracles that are all around us.
It came to me that morning, that a lot of my journey is about this. I am traveling and not just staying put and appreciating a single place, but my journey is not about going from point a to point b. I am on a lengthy trip going to many places instead of a single destination and every place I go is significant and I am trying to experience it to the fullest. Now if I can just continue to do this when I return and move into my new house and into my new life, I am sure my existence will be that much richer.