"SPRING BREAKKKKKK!" was the battle cry last week as I joined my Dad and Co. in Sedona, Arizona for my first Spring break in twelve years. My return to school has truly consumed daily life for the past six months. Mark, Bobbie, Dad, and I set about on the task at hand- spend a full week maximizing all hours away from Zoom meetings and group assignments. Two long books and five trails later, I flew home feeling mostly ready for another quarter.
Frankly, Sedona doesn't encompass the wild ruggedness emblematic of the desert. In comparison even Tucson, a sprawling metropolis, is surrounded by a proliferation of Saguaros and brown dirt perches rather than a sea of headlights and luxury hotels. I surprised myself with my own surprise regarding how popular and crowded Sedona proved to be. What did I expect? This is the outdoor scene nearly everywhere these days. At some point I'll have to stop feigning shock and awe.
"Zen pretty much comes down to three things- everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention."
Sedona doesn't fit the tranquil image of the American Southwest, the one Edward Abbey knew when he wrote "What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote." Though that idealistic emptiness is replaced by people, pulsing traffic, and resort grade consumerism, nothing negates the remarkable 360 degree red rock surround. The scarlet earth and blood orange pinnacles are Sedona's saving grace.
I researched quite a few trails that simply weren't doable on this trip due to overflowing parking lots and overzealous crowds. The ones we managed to take in were fantastic though, and I'd be happy to share a recommendation or two if you message me privately (@morelifelesswaste). Photos below from my favorite hike of the trip:
There's precisely one mug I drink coffee out of when I stay with my Dad. This mug, and my Father's particular type of benevolent minimalism (awfully necessary when you live in an RV), are important touchstones of soothing reliability. I've attached a mystic meaning to this mug for the simple fact that it persists all year without me, unscathed by so many miles of road traveled between visits. When I re-appear in the RV, so too does it on the little table by the window.
Forgive my innate romanticism here when I say that we are all in desperate need of something unchanging and steadfast like this mug in our life; a faithful constant. Some things, and if you're lucky-even people or places, are pure sources of unyielding familiarity. Perhaps this is also why it's so difficult to confront the crowds that surge to every trail, camp spot, and formerly unknown private place we may have fantasized existed for us alone...
Very little in life is unconditional, and I wrestle with impermanence a great deal. Hence why I find so much pleasure and power in the idea that we can go out into the world and live a little, and something or even someone will still be there, absolutely unwavering in the meaning or emotion they evoke. Some things-not many, but some- are irrevocably etched into the stone of our being.
Just like Sedona's coffeepot rock, a permanent fixture in the landscape of the red rocks, my mug at Dad's is an indelible feature of my our quality time together. The views from the window of the rig vary with each trip, but the fresh coffee poured into that "Two Stroke Coffee Co" mug remains a bedrock that provides the simplest solace.
It's beautiful to be submit to the tides of change, to release control and be swept up in the bountiful mysteries of what lies ahead. I also find it humbly necessary to have some reference point on the horizon-a thing that tethers me to who I am in the midst of so much chaos. This is the 'cure' for motion sickness, after all; training your eyes on that unwavering spot in the distance.
Click here for Bobbie and Ruthie's Youtube Channel- 'Getting High with Two Old Broads'
and here for Mark's long-standing blog, Box Canyon Blog