This last day will not find me on any trail. Today is mostly about making preparations to move this condo-on-wheels to more remote locales with a good supply of house-hold provisions, groceries and clean clothes. The rick-man is out and about running errands. And so I find myself with an interlude of mid-day alone time inside the Airstream.
The want of precious alone time is no complaint directed toward the rick-man. Nor is it a pronouncement of weariness with this lifestyle where our condo-on-wheels provides a mobile homestead of approximately 180 ft2 of living space for two people. It simply is what it is: time alone indoors is a precious commodity when traveling with an RVing partner.
And what is my first action as the rick-man starts up the Suburban and drives into town? I am nothing if not consistent: I plug my iphone into the Airstream’s speaker system, turn up the volume, and select “Shuffle” for four of my favorite Joni Mitchell “albums” in my playlist.
Ms. Mitchell has kept me company during most of my therapeutic alone interludes for some forty-plus years. But my consistency for love of her unique voice and melodic arrangements also comes with a kindness to those less appreciative—I save listening to J.M. until no one else is about. “Good” grief from roommates and life partners in “the early years” did not present a mission for redemption of my musical tastes or theirs. It just made any alone time all the more precious.Sometime around the age of fourteen I sat alone in my childhood home’s bedroom, and listened to “Blue” with the angst and introspection common to that age’s archetype. And although I wrote many a stilted poem as part of my routine when alone with J.M., it was my shortest poem that has stayed with my memories and my life-personality all these years later: Sometimes I Wonder, Sometimes I Wander.
With Joni Mitchell as my mid-day companion this last day in Northern Arizona, I would like to be able to share that I walked the South Rim Trail of the Grand Canyon this week and was overwhelmed with a depth of introspection that warranted a written journal of cascading thoughts and spiritual relevance. But my 4+ mile leisurely stroll along the south rim was accompanied by only one repeating thought: It is too big—it is just too big for me to personally understand. I cannot relate to its vastness from the rim trail. A baptism into the Grand Canyon’s meaning would, for me, require a trek to the canyon floor. I am fairly certain of one life destiny: I will never make that trek, at least not during this lifetime. The Grand Canyon will remain for me a place too big and too distant to impact my life’s journey. All I can give it is my respect. All I can take from it is the photographs of a casual tourist.
And so I relegated my role to that of a pedestrian tourist, attempting to create photographic postcards that family and friends would probably view with ennui. But I needed to feel some small purpose when in the presence of a place so grand. I stood at rim’s edge (as close as my fear of heights would allow) and took digital snapshots.
The late morning’s full-ball sun gave my eyes a natural overexposure that would make capturing the vibrant canyon colors a challenge. The rim’s angle of attack for viewing the canyon walls would make framing the extremes of depth and perspective a greater challenge. I fought off a feeling of smallness; a sense of futility for my accepted mission. But I turned and framed and shuttered my camera. Again; and again.
I share with you my postcards from the rim. I kind of like them. But they only model a reality that is too big for me to understand. Sometime I’ll wonder about this grand place. Tomorrow I’m going to wander to another corner of Mother Nature’s homestead. But today I wanted to share my Grand Canyon postcards with you.