I’ve been dreaming about getting back to the desert this Spring. The vast open spaces are calling my name. I’ve been feeling cooped up for far too long. It’s time for some more adventures and there’s one place that I’ve been dreaming about lately. Valley of the Gods!
If there are Gods, I could absolutely imagine them hanging out here in the Spring watching the wildflowers pop their heads up out of the sandy rust colored soil and unfold their delicate petals in the sunlight, or watch the cumulus clouds lazily make their way east across the immense sapphire blue sky, or at night, gaze upon the star-dust that seems to shine so much more brightly in the desert than anywhere else. There’s a quiet solitude in this place that makes it feel as though time is standing still. That stillness is what I’m craving and maybe what the world is subconsciously craving too.
Stillness is the deep cool air that I need in order to create. I’m finding I need it more and more these days. Just writing those words are terrifying as I’ve never labeled myself as a “creative” person. Hell, I’ve spent my life trying to be rational, keep a level head, and hold everything together. I’m a planner and list maker and fixer and if you need something handled, I’m your woman. I’ll handle it and it’ll be awesome. If you want to strategize, need a kick in the pants to get out there and log those miles, or if you want an honest answer about whether or not those pants make your ass look fat, give me a call. I’m totally good at those.
What I’m now learning though is that that’s not the whole picture of who I am. I’m learning that there’s this whole “creative” side that I’ve been sort of ignoring and actually naming it and owning up to it is, well, scary. I’m not exactly sure what it all means let alone what to do about it. All I know is that I need more stillness and silence to hear what it has to say and find out what I’m supposed to do with it.
Last year, I went to Salt Lake City and on my way home I camped one night on some BLM land near an old cemetery, a place where most people would avoid due to its isolation and the whole cemetery thing. Yet, I felt totally safe and at peace. Heck, no sooner did I get the tent up and Lexi was in there passed out on my sleeping bag. Adventuring is tiring work and apparently old cemeteries are totally not creepy to dogs.
Anyways, the following day, we set off early to wander through Zion and explore some other places before making the final push home. We were up on Smith Mesa and, at the time, all I wanted to do was pull off the side of the dirt road, grab the blanket from the car, and head out into the open range with my laptop to write. Write about the moment. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the raw emotions of that particular place and time.
Write about the cows grazing in the distance and the inquisitive horses who wanted to know if I had apples or carrots hidden in my pockets, and if I would please, please, please scratch their ears, give them kisses on their whiskery noses, and cup their soft chins in my hands. To write about the way the wind was gently blowing the pale golden grass and how, in it, you could hear the subtle song of the grasshopper. You know, that song they make when the rub legs against their wings. How it was like having your own mini violin orchestra out there in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to write about everything and yet I was pulled in another direction at the same time. See everything! I felt I was on this incredibly tight schedule. I was racing the clock to see and do as much as I could before making the drive back to the city and back to work.
Looking back, I should taken the time to stop and walk out there into that field and to write. To pour out all the words and emotions. To live that moment. To find that stillness. To be.
As Wayne Dyer once said, “Everything that’s created comes out of silence. Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence. Your words come out of this void. Your very essence emerged from emptiness. All creativity requires some stillness.”
Looking back to Smith Mesa, those words that I did not stop to write down are words that are still stuck inside of me. They are all jumbled together now. They are fighting to make their way out. To find their purpose in this world. I am starting to work out what their purpose is and the purpose of my “creativity”.
There’s a storm brewing in America and it is filled with hate. Hate that I just don’t understand. It’s a murderous and violent hate. We are like a bunch of mice in a tiny cage and we are killing each other because there are too many of us in this country. We kill because of religion, we kill because of sexual orientation, we kill because of race, we kill just for the sake of killing. Worst of all, there are kids killing kids and it’s just not getting better.
What’s the answer to this problem? Outside of a disease which eliminates half the population, I’m not sure what the answer is. But I think a good place to start is in finding stillness.
There is hope in stillness just like there is hope in the bright green Spring grass as it pushes its way up through the soil. Through this stillness maybe I will find a way to communicate with the world that will aid in protecting these incredibly beautiful places, and that protects the stillness these places hold. Our country, and our world, needs these places now more than ever. We need quiet and stillness to figure out how to stop all of this hate.
Valley of the Gods is much like Monument Valley but without the tourists. It’s covered with towering pinnacles, buttes, mesas, sandstone towers, and mushroom rock formations that seem to take you back in time. There are no power lines disrupting this landscape. It seems to go on forever stretching out all around you like an exquisite dream. Just giant clouds, blue skies, and a gently rolling valley floor. There are several dirt roads that take you through some of the most beautiful and seemingly remote landscapes in the southwest. Stillness abounds. Hope abounds. Our future is held sacred in every atom that swirls around you.
The beauty is, it’s managed by BLM so there are no entrance fees and no services of any kind (cell service is pretty much non-existent). Peace is all around and all you have to do is stand still. Time will come crashing in and with a few deep breaths you will find yourself in the here and now, unmolested by 24 hour news cycles and politicians tweeting about their reality tv show ratings. Utter and complete stillness. Isn’t that something what we all could use from time to time?
Personally, I want to head back out here and camp for a few days throughout the valley in all of the off-the-beaten-path areas. I want to hike around the pinnacles and listen to nothing more than the air around me. I want to investigate the plants and animals, except for the tarantulas, I could do without those. I want to explore the rock formations. But, most of all I want to watch a spring storm roll through at night. To witness the lightning race through the clouds turning the sky blazing shades of blue and purple and oxblood red. To feel the electricity in the air, the fat raindrops on my face, and embrace the calm subsidence as the storm rolls off into the distance illuminating a horizon that holds endless possibilities for the curious adventurer.
Next time, I’m going to embrace the stillness and just be.