Friday, May 5, 2017

When Nature Calls

Me as a tiny speck, hiking thru the Tucson Mountains near Saguaro Ntnl. Park

"What makes a place special is the way it buries itself inside the heart, not whether it's flat or rugged, rich or austere, wet or arid, gentle or harsh, warm or cold, wild or tame. Every place, like every person, is elevated by the love and  respect shown toward it, and by the way in which its bounty is received." -Robert Wilkinson

In the past year I have had certain landscapes call to me in such intense ways. I developed a complete obsession with Iceland and was convinced that it had some important sights and lessons for me. Traveling there solo last September was one of the most exciting things I've ever done, even though I felt supremely calm throughout the entire trip. I felt the calling, actualized my goal, and had an insanely dope experience despite everything (fear of traveling alone, my mom relapsed immediately before I left, last minute plans for my dog's care fell through, countless other roadblocks trying to deter me). I said yes to almost everything that came my way in Iceland, and ended up spending nowhere near as much time alone as I had planned since I met so many cool and open travelers to explore with.

Lately, the Southwest has been calling my name and asking me to return. I grew up spending a few weeks every summer with my dad in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For years he lived on the property of a super kind Hispanic woman who rented a home to my dad's girlfriend, Iska. Looking back, I think of Iska as a spirit guide from another lifetime. She introduced me to natural healing and earth remedies at an extremely early age. She was a masseus who scouted gemstones on her property, decorated her home like a bohemian desert garden, and made me feel really good about myself. She was the first person to help me understand how much the food we eat impacts our body's ecosystem. On one of my Dad and I's many adventures, he drove us to the Carlsbad Caverns on the border of New Mexico and Texas. I got HORRIBLE food poisoning from a place we stopped at on the road, and Iska soothed it all away with foot reflexology and herbal anti-nausea pills that I let dissolve under my tongue. These early experiences with natural healing opened my eyes to the mind-body connection and had a profound impact on the way I view health and wellness, and the way I live my life.

This time around Utah is the Siren luring me in with her sweet song. It's a place that I think ceaselessly about, constantly planning a trip in my mind and researching the many options. In talking about coincidences and following life's signs (see my last post), I have an unused airline ticket from last year that must be used by November 1st. I plan to change my destination from New Orleans to Utah. Fall in the red canyons and golden arches of Utah sounds like the most brilliantly satisfying experience. I'm excited by the prospect of visiting national treasures like Zion, but also for the smaller and more hidden gems the state has to offer.

The desert is an incredible landscape that has begun to appeal to me so much more as I've gotten older. I think the emptiness sits better with me now than it did when I was younger.

 "It wasn't particular things but the space between them, that abundance of absence, that is the desert's invitation." -A Field Guide to Getting Lost

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