Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Road Goes Ever On and On.

            I am a firm believer in perspective. Perspective is everything. It is a concept centered on critical thinking. I have always been in awe of our capacity for compassion and understanding… our humanity. We have such a unique way of thinking, where we can approach a problem from so many different angles that we can find out a better solution to everything. This is where perspective becomes a predominate player in the game of life. We’ve all heard the cliché glass half empty or glass half full that has been ingrained into our minds to the point of it being completely meaningless.
            This past week I visited Range Creek again, which of course is always an excellent idea. The healing power of that place is extraordinary. No cell service, no technology, the spiritual feeling of past human lives being lived and now gone, the quiet, and the brilliant starlight places a calming warmth on the soul. It is a place to pause from our chaotic lives and reconnect with something more important than the hustle and bustle of a modern first world life. A place to wake when the sun rises, and retire when the sun sets; it is so natural that one tends to forget all their worries. A certain haven for an anthropologist and more so an archaeologist. You can sit in the canyon and a plethora of questions infiltrate your mind and demand all the knowledge you’ve learned to be put on the front lines. A battle to reconstruct the past flows across your mind; with your mental resources becoming the fighting force in a world of innumerable variables. Who could resist such an overwhelming outreach to connect with people who have been gone for over a thousand years?
            My perspective on the canyon was a key player in what was to come on the last night of our stay. I say ‘our’ because I visited Range Creek with a few friends from the archaeological field school held over the summer. Two gentlemen and another lady were present in our group. I was scheduled to work an opening shift on the following morning, so my lady friend and I decided to part ways with the men and abandon the canyon around 5pm.  

In the words of Gimli – "I have taken my worst wound at this parting, having looked my last upon that which is fairest.Of course I didn’t want to leave, who would?

            I wanted nothing more than to call into work (if we had service of course), and say that Range Creek is much more fun than working, so I wont be coming in. But I had decided to be responsible and work like an adult, justified by my weekend of pure euphoria in the canyon. Having decided this, we were escorted by the gentlemen to the gate.
            They had unlocked the gate for us, and told us the combination to the second gate, which was about a ten second drive away. And like a good comedy film we couldn’t get the gate open. Worrying that the guys had already driven way, I sprinted back to the first gate yelling their names. Like an even better comedy film, they were gone. Let me emphasize again, we had no cell service. We’re still in the canyon. My friend and I tried many things, but could not get the gate to work. We decided to walk back to the ranch to get help and just stay the night. The ranch is 13 miles away.
            We stuffed our packs with our sleeping bags, headlamps, the water we had left, and the bag of peanuts we had left. My friend was irritated and grumpy almost the entire four hour walk back to the ranch, whereas I was quite chipper. I enjoyed the intimate experience with the canyon. Getting to know the canyon by foot, getting to partake of the incredible beauty, the smell of dirt and desert hung in the air, and the archaeological theories buzzing in and out of my mind, I can say I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Not to mention I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to work. I can say that the walk was breathtaking. I would do it again for sure. But the latter half of the walk was dark, and we had only one working headlamp at that time. A wee bit frustrating, sure, but still a gorgeous place!
            And then I fell in the creek… Slightly less amazing. I remember the last two miles being miserable. My hips were stiff, my feet were in pain (I only use barefoot shoes, which probably didn’t help with all the sharp rocks), and my knees were stiff. We were limping and dragging our feet, and we were both in sour moods. But my perspective had not been changed, even though my spirits were low. I was still so blown away by this canyon that I couldn’t help but LOVE the walk. When we finally entered the ranch I was back to laughing and being of good cheer. Why? I no longer was in pain! I didn’t have to continue to walk! My friend on the other hand was bitter and angry. The perspectives were simple- my glass was full of opportunity and cheer. Hers was a glass of resigned bitterness and inconvenience.
            I do not say this in disregard to her, because I adore her greatly. But just a simple perspective changed an attitude for four hours, and I believe my walk, although being the exact same as hers, was far more enjoyable.
            The task is simple: Life is full of adventure, beauty, and opportunity, but that does not mean it has to be dulled by adversity and trial.

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