Four hundred and twenty-seven miles. Let’s call it twenty miles per gallon. A bit more on the way there, a bit less on the way back. Downhill, wind at the back, the windshield like an IMAX film playing nonstop. Winter fights dirty. All shades of brown on brown on brown littered across the landscape limply lit with rays that lose their daily battle with the cold. Smoke vortex from structures filled with huddling clusters. Slight wind and the blanket pulls tighter.
Before me lies the expanse of charred blackness. No fellow humans in sight. Silence and isolation. Rubber soles on the dusty path, gathering splintered chards of once burned fuel. Powder on gloves, exposed skin glowing red like the fire. A frame here, a frame there but this mission isn’t about image. This is simply about looking, seeing, thinking and wondering. Sometimes the point is to not make a point.
Nomads. Semi-nomadic. Warring. In our own, modern way we carry on the tradition. Warm Springs, Mescalero and all flavor of Apache. Written over by Catholicism. Then written over again and again and again and finally written over with revisionist history and the kill-all progress we can’t seem to find a way around. Pithouse to above ground to wood frame to Winnebago.
We can’t know in the time we have. We just can’t. Impossible. To know requires time and commitment that most of us will never actually understand. Most of us have potentially never known the know. We move too fast, have calendars color-coded for chaos and find every invention to keep us from knowing the know. We view what others have done, seen and known and we adopt a short term sense of knowledge that isn’t really ours.
To begin to know requires the begin to sit. Sit and stare. Sit and stare and think. Sit and stare and think and process. Sit and stare and think and process and wonder. I realize how fortunate I am. Fourteen stations of the cross picked off one by one as the terrain changes and the lungs burn. The view from up top is worthy of a relayer and long sit. Binoculars scanning a landscape virtually unchanged. Virtually, but changed, still. Chards and sharpness revealed when the rains come. Secrets untold.
Writing, message, artwork. 20,000 plus of them left on the stones. Patterns of war, creation, art, family, and history. These old stories will outlast us all. As the light fades and fails we power on the torch. Winter wind forces tears from the eyes. There is no place I’d rather be.
Your writing, along with your photographs, takes me on a journey. Thank you for sharing this today. It’s perfect in every way.
Thanks HK! Ran into a stunt man from Colorado. He looks like a dark-haired Robert Redford. He knew you! He’s a Red Bull guy, skier I think.
this is really beautiful dan. thank you. the italians say dolce far niente. the sweetness of doing nothing. which is really about looking and being silent. and being no other place. so good.
I was sitting in a hot spring looking at a wall of clouds and thinking that it would probably look like I was zoned out. But that being zoned out was the point. That odd space where your brain isn’t being tasked with anything. Then suddenly it’s slightly tasked by everything and nothing at the same time. This is such a wonderful experience, but our culture does everything possible to make sure we DON’T do this very often unless we make a specific effort.
Superb writing Dan! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Thanks Kurt. Appreciate it. Such a privilege to get out for a few days.
Each time I read Uncle Dan’s post, makes me wanna step up my writing game. ***Scribbles in journal: “New Year’s Resolution: step up writing game…”***
Writing, to me, is high art. All you need is a pen, pencil, etc. And your imagination…..
Awesome. Felt like I got to peek into one of those journals.
That is the exact stuff that ends up in my journal. Habit. So much fun.
Wonderful – full of wonder…
Much appreciate the feedback.
Mindfullness – or maybe mind less ness. Beautiful, Daniel.
Just attended a mindfulness in marketing talk….
Dan, That’s one of the best writing I have ever seen on the desert experience. Edward Abbey comes to mind. Kindred spirits perhaps? I love the desert for much of the same. I look forward to hearing more about your new adventure with Amy in Santa Fe.
Wow, thanks for that. Abbey was far beyond anything I’ll ever be so the reference is flattering to say the least. It’s funny, I write stuff like this all the time but mostly in my journal. Always amazed when someone else likes it…