Saturday, May 12, 2012

Of Canyons and People

(Warning: unedited, coffee- and sleep- deprived post.  Read at your own risk.)
Recently, I found myself here^, gazing upon one of the seven wonders of the world: the Grand Canyon.  As I sat with my godchild, our legs dangling off the edge of a cliff, I looked out upon the gargantuan crater to the semi-circled mountains beyond.  The land of my birth not being condusive to far-sight (too many trees upon too-flat ground), I had never seen so far in my life.  I could see for miles, until distance overcame the clear air and the background faded into a smoky haze of grey.  Beneath our feet, between us and the Canyon floor, were large, flat, plain-like rocks that would have made a perfect stage for a rock concert.  The acoustics would have been grand.

In the distance I saw the river, the white water of the rapids noticeable even from my height:
But the water which I knew must have been swirling in a volitile rage miles away looked as still as this picture; for all its motion, it never moved.  In fact, the Canyon as a whole was as silent and motionless as these photographs (though much more impressive, of course).  I asked a fussy godchild what she thought lived down in the Canyon.
"Mountains," was the sniffled answer.
"True!  But what else?"
"More mountains...and rocks..."
Indeed.  All there was were rocks, rocks, and more rocks.  The monotnoy of the place was smothering, even as the size and open spaces were liberating.  I could not help but think that I was looking upon a thing that had been there eons before I knew existence, and would be there long after I am gone.  I was looking upon a thing that never changed, or knew things that changed, or cared. So...

I sat and held my godchild in my arms and thanked God that humans are fleeting.  Every one of the tourists (many from foreign countries, speaking in a babble of languages I did not understand) had come to see a marvel that for years has stolen the breath of the world.  And yet each of them, with their miniscule lives, were ineffably more precious.  Unlike the semi-circular plateaus, they were unrepeatable.  Unlike the Canyon, they would only be here once and for a very short time.  The Canyon was a marvel.  It was beautiful.  It was awe-inspiring.  It made me think of eternity.  But, mostly, it made me think of how much more of a marvel are the people around me--so small in comparison, but far more alive, far more unique, far more wondrous.  The Canyon would be there to inspire and impact millions for generations to come.  But that person I see on the street?  My elderly grandfather?  That child in the store?  They won't be.  I went to the Canyon seeking wonder, as do most.  I left thinking that it had been around me all the time, I was just never good at noticing it.

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