Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On the Majesty of Mountains

It is hard to fathom the mountains. And that they move, slowly, without notice. But that's what happens. And it's humbling.

I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, with the Catalina mountains out my bedroom window, looming large beyond the foothills. Now, in Brooklyn, I am in the shadow of The City. It can be so daunting, what man can build with his own hands, how possible it is to be so productive, the proof right there in the awesome bridges and towering buildings, in all manner of high-speed transportation.

And, so, I return, as often a I can, to the mountains. And I am humbled, once again. I remember there are forces far greater than any of us. And it is strangely soothing. There is only so much I am responsible for.

In Joshua Tree, where I've come with my family, strange twisted Yucca brevifolia dot the desert landscape, sprouting up amidst the scrubby brush, in amongst the eery rock formations. They are apocalyptic to be sure, these "plutonic intrusions", signs of inevitable irrepressible change.

The geologic explanation for these impressive sculptural piles hurts my brain, some chemical combination of molten lava, arid climate and rains that occurred 100 million years or so ago. If only dragonflies could talk, the stories they'd tell.

As my children scurry along the rocks, rendered against their largess like ants, like characters from
Land of the Lost, I find my heart race. It is only a matter of time.

And in that moment I am forced to forget all the worries back home, to forget that I brought the wrong shoes, or that the wheel came off one of our rolling bags. Everything else falls away besides gratitude and the realization that to walk on this great Earth for even a little while is a gift, a spectacular gift we can not take for granted.

Plates shift, fault lines spread slightly and we are not in charge. But we can try, in our own small way, to recognize beauty and maintain it, to build bridges where we can, between places and people. We can walk with wonder through deserts and forests and the fine cities built by man's own capable
hands and we can stop to say thank you to the Powers that be, to the great and merciful forces that make it possible.