The Canyon

 

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The twisted layers of pinks, oranges and browns, the flashes of red and green hypnotize me, pull me forward. Vaguely aware of murmurs behind, I step nearer, closer.

‘Stop!’ Someone, a man, calls out, but I ignore him and soon human noise melds seamlessly with nature’s hush.
I stare to the right, down the canyon. The Colorado river is but a distant hiss on the edges of my awareness. All I am is concentrated on the yawning space below.

The Chasm. Was it really formed over thousands, nay, millions of years by the thin brown snake now languishing beneath? It must have been a much larger river at some point to create this yaw, this immensity. I slowly ease cross-legged on to the smooth ledge that juts from under the rim.

The Rim. What a perfect way to describe the edge of mortality.

For a moment or two, I close my eyes and listen. Emptiness isn’t silent. It breathes, this canyon, from the tugging whispers of the wind to the headlong rush of the river. I am alone here. Alone with nothingness; alone in beauty.

The clatter of stones into the abyss is an ugly intrusion, like a screech mid-sentence, a whiff of unpleasance amidst perfumes of rose and jasmine. Motionless with regret for a moment, I hold my breath to see if I would hear them arrive at their eternal rest, but any rattle is swallowed by the susurration of stillness.

I shift again, sending more pebbles down through the layers of time, and wonder what those ancients thought when they beheld this gaping wound in the land. Perhaps the red rocks are the canyon’s blood, draining to the river that sliced ever deeper.

This is not my first time here, but this is the first time I have obeyed the crushing whim to seek the truth of this ravine, to find the answer to the eternal question.

My heart beats faster as I contemplate what I wish, nay, need to do. Inhaling deeply of heat and pine, I open my eyes and look down. The Emptiness weighs heavy, like something trying to suffocate me. I lean forward and breathe the beckoning call of allure, the draw of desire. Would I float? I think I might.

Vertigo crashes over me and I’m falling, flying. A scream burdens my lungs, pushing to escape. Am I up? Am I down?
Instead of a harsh, strident shriek, there are only whispers – flutterings of sound that kiss.

My legs grow numb and I smile, for now I am flying. I can no longer feel the rock digging into my bottom. I can float, after all. With the deep blue stretched above me, the rich, pastel hues and striations below, I am part of God’s painting.

Me. Only me.