It took me all day, but I arrived in the early afternoon. Headstones brooded over the flat, like the ruins of old, ceremonial crypts in which a dynasty from another geologic epoch were interred. Haunting spires erupted from the floor of an ancient sea. In a burning silence they presided, breathing and flickering through the mirages heaved up by the plain.
They had names, like the Mittens, Three Sisters, and Agathla Peak. So clean, devoid of structure and tree. Rust land and turquoise sky. Verticality pasted onto the sky in spires and buttes, mesas and diatremes.
To see these necks of stone for the first time is to have a blade of clarity pierce the membrane of consciousness. Across the blood sands, they vibrated through the withering circuits of jagged air that breathed up from the asphalt. The cold, unfiltered sun pinned their steeple shapes onto the sageland.
I drove up 163 to the desolate north end of the tribal park, far past Goulding’s Lodge which stood across the road from the Park’s entrance, where the Mittens presided. I pulled over to the shoulder. I got out and overlooked a wide, flat expanse flanked by short, red-painted escarpments in the east.
The wind held its breath. The sun seemed to freeze along with the frost that gnawed the boulders across the highway. In the distance south, the monoliths thundered in silence. Then they came alive.
Every molecule of dirt and dust lived in a shuddering stillness. The monuments didn’t need me to tell them what they were. It was I who needed reminding of who I was.
The timeless tide lasted only a moment. Then my head tried to figure it out, to grasp it, to stick it in my bug jar and compare it to prior experience in an effort at categorization. Being had to make its escape. Peace cannot be mangled by terms.
This isn’t a piece about personification. It’s not meant to tell of the living nature of inanimate matter. It is about being. It was only one moment, carved and distinct from all the millions of seconds that have and will comprise my serial existence. Eternity is only one moment. That’s all it needed to last.
One moment can last a lifetime. I often go back to that moment in Monument Valley.
The universe abhors the superfluous. There are no luxury items. Yet creation is itself a pure luxury, just as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is unnecessary to the ear. And yet the symphony is that for which we live.
© 2014 by Michael C. Just