If you take the Grand Canyon for granted, you’ll take everything for granted.
I hike back from Ribbon Falls to Bright Angel Campground, through Bright Angel Canyon. I felt curiously disconnected from the side canyon which opened up before me. I pressured myself to enjoy and appreciate every moment, because I’d only be here a few days. Pressure to experience peace. Are there other people who do that to themselves? A voice within said: “Be with it.” Essential Buddhism (and Christianity). So I did. I connected to my disconnection.
I looked up and gazed at boulder fields with rocks the size of mansions disheveled on a slope below an escarpment, one shaped like a Pentagon, another balanced uncertainly on a lesser rock. They must have sounded like thunder when they calved from the cliff, which formed a butte, its templed roof shrouded by a day cloud, capped with pinion-juniper woodland. Unassailable castles complete with forests of P-J and sage, but where no human has most likely ever set foot. As I walked, one temple became the Jeweler’s Building in Chicago. The relative motion of far away cliffs juxtaposed against the quicker movement of nearby monoliths reminded me of walking past the flying buttresses of the cathedrals of medieval England.
I scrutinized lichen etched wildly in pallid green and amber like psychedelic graffiti on the boulders. I bowed at the leaves of a century plant, with thick, tapered leaves curled like gravy boats and guarded by two inch spines. Each century plant flowers only once, usually after 15 to 25 years, then dies. Beneath the top story of the century plant’s fingered leaves, a lower tier of leaves bore white etchings of near perfect squares with rounded edges, like old TV tube frames stacked in towers. Water may have poured from the thorns of the tier of leaves above, dripping square patterns on the leaves beneath. I became aware of my awareness. In the moment I surrendered to my unawareness, I became aware. Oh, how very Zen of me.
© 2015 by Michael C. Just