I am learning that wherever I am, there are tales to be told, heard, seen, and even tasted. I have been noting how vastly different each opportunity to meet a moment can be, creating new variations on stories, on themes. Water spilling from the sky is a neutral event. And yet, I can flavor her with drama, or romance, and sometimes sorrow.
Just before the end of August the stirrings of a storm initiated a fear in me that carried a narrative with a most unlikely outcome of death. While my conceptual mind knew this death anxiety was a stretch, my emotional body was uncertain of how to integrate rain pouring, with a background soundscape of rolling thunder, and visuals of lightening flashes, and a journey through rapids ahead in a place I was still befriending.
It was day seven of a river rafting trip along the Colorado River, and it became clear that my secret wish of completing the eight days without rain was not going to be granted. I understood the potential gift of witnessing the canyon as she spilled water and theoretically that sounded magical, but the truth is, I was terrified of what I did not know.
Rain started falling just after we pulled our boats to another perfect beach to make lunch. Most of our crew ducked under ledges formed from rock walls and surrendered to the falling sky. From our perch we began to witness the miracle of heavy rain in the canyon as we spotted the gradual unleashing of a waterfall. Enticed to come out from undercover we saw several other pathways giving way to flowing water. In awe, and simultaneously quite uncomfortable at the thought that this rain was nowhere near done falling, I continued to perch. The dark skies further downstream were telling of what was still before us. Feeling edgy about being so cold, and anxious about something out of my comfort zone (like the bigger rapid that was promised ahead), I began to settle in to a trust that all was shaping me perfectly.
There came a moment when I remembered to offer everything to the river. I was softened by the many days before that had my eyes overflowing with humility at the greatness of the canyon walls, and the wild knowing that this place had once been ocean, had once been mountains, was now a desert with a holy river.
As I yielded to my own created fears, and to the majesty of Nature, I had the great darshan of watching the canyon pour power in the form of water from her walls. She offered 1,000 ft falls in a golden turmeric yellow, some in chocolate brown rushing, others a cinnamon red carrying rocks that came crashing, and still more that were clear like the cleanest stream. Everywhere I looked another miracle was making an offering, and those few of us blessed to witness, watched Nature in her ever changing brilliance.
Paddling on a boat with five other humans, I allowed the downpours from the sky, from the canyon walls, from all of our hearts to become a celebration of my own untamed letting go. We laughed without inhibition as we too became unrestrained. We sang with excitement at just how freely we could become like the energy that was surrounding us.
This small detail from a moment in time will be another story that perhaps becomes me, as I continue to ingest canyon teachings.
I allowed my own narrative to get quieter as I began an education of The Grand Canyon by way of herstory. An exploration of people and their ways from long ago and the relationship to today was another aspect of the learnings that were shared while paddling along. Lessons of geology, and how water moves were some of the many treasures presented as we flowed downstream. There was the teaching the moon offered in her fullness, the red ants in their consistent return to the Earth at nightfall, the ways of self-care and Earth-care while temporarily living along the river, and the intricacies of human dynamics when a new family is being negotiated.
The intense cascades on that final day told me this: all life has been made of story, and yet, we are not that story. How can even the canyon be herstory when I witnessed her changing before my eyes. I saw her walls come down and her floor change shape with the potency of a storm. I walked through smaller canyons within the canyon and saw plant life and salt crystals that all had their tales and yet were once presented perhaps slightly altered, or maybe profoundly different.
There is a forgiveness and a freedom that I no longer must disregard my saga in fear of it being a permanent attachment or too skewed by my flavors. The adventures and recollections, no matter how altered over time are perfect. And so is the perfection that alters everything in a deluge of elements that takes down walls, builds new structures and totally decimates others. I simply am as all of this change is happening. Just like the river which may dry up or become more grand, and the walls that may change shape, and the peoples that may go back to the Earth or rebirth, and the Moon that cycles and shadows and illuminates- we are change.
How curious and open I can become as the stories are offered – knowing I am – no matter.
*Photo by Krisanne LoGalbo