Friday, January 15, 2016

Climbing Waterfalls

On a crisp sunny desert day I found myself on a desert ride with friends. We wandered windy roads in a truck that seemed mountain goats designed. It clung to treacherous mountain roads and carried us onto the truly beaten wild roads that tame cars shudder to think about and mufflers clench.

View of Apache Lake and Mountains from Apache Trail

We eventually settled on the more sedate Apache Trail past Canyon Lake and through Fish Creek Canyon. Those who've driven that road know the irony of using sedate in it's description. Generously it is a lane and a half of winding dirt mountain roads with railings that seem to be made from pizza boxes. Rusting wrecks on the side of the mountain inspire caution as you navigate the washboard and washout areas. There is the ever present wonder if you will come around a corner to find someone coming the other way too fast. Somehow you make it through. It is worth it. The views are of vast distances where geology shows off it's capacity for artistic beauty. Mountains molded by water and wind, shaded by the minerals within them. We parked at the bottom, at Fish Creek Canyon. I love hiking there when the water level is low. I love seeing the slender waterfalls dropping hundreds of feet on days like this one. Three waterfalls over hundreds of feet in height brought recent rainfall from the tops of the mountains down to the plants waiting here.

Within moments of parking, my friend Elan and I found a waterfall we could hike up. We could go in any direction. We both were drawn like magnets to the shining, gurgling water. We danced over rocks and water, weaving back and forth like human needles making our way from the pooling short falls at the bottom up around to where we could stand within feet of water coming straight down the mountain over a hundred feet before working its way down to the stream it would join below.

Standing in the remote wilderness, crouched under a thorn tree within inches of ice cold mountain water I realized something. I am the kind of person who climbs waterfalls. There are people who do all sorts of things. It takes all kinds. I love climbing waterfalls. Getting behind them, beneath them, standing in them. The sound, the feel, the beauty. It can be dangerous. It can be foolish. What kind of nitwit seeks out wet, potentially slippery rock and says "climbing that is a great idea!" I am one of those nitwits. Now, I am not going to go up a break neck two hundred feet free climb up a waterfall. But I am going to boulder hop my way to the top or to hidden areas of twisty ones with terrain that practically begs me to climb it.  It is always worth it. I could have walked to the creek. I could have looked at the view down the canyon. Others did. Many did. I went to the first thing that caught my mind. The waterfall I could reach. The waterfall I could climb, in climbing I would see more of the waterfall and more of the vista. Two of us were drawn that way. Danny watched from the road until we went out of view, his face showed that he wanted to feel less exhausted- he wanted to see what was up there too.

Days of paperwork, beaurocracy declaring in it's way the necessity of paperwork in generating meaningless jobs of communication and miscommunication. Of people being numbers and categorized, shelved and stamped. Through each page and meeting it was hard to hear, hard to focus because part of me is still there watching the water fall and listening to the song of it playing on the rocks.

Days of being different fictions, concentrating on each separate experience then discarding it to create and complete the next. Another journey next week, eight more people to be. Danny faces his next surgery, his heart is strong but they have to get the electric working right. It is frustrating to find out your house is beautiful but the electric needs work to work right. It's more complicated than just changing a circuit. It is flesh and blood, cells and genes that the electrophysiologist has to use to work on the electrical system within us. Hopefully after this surgery everything will heal right. Hopefully in a month we will go back and climb to that spot together.

We all face different challenges. The funny thing is that we externalize them. The barriers to our happiness we identify are outside of us. The reality is inside of us. The monsters in our own heads, assumptions and inaccuracies that our own personalities and beliefs arise from. The worst are ones that other people feed without knowing about. It is daunting to sit down and say to a friend that their words or feedback they've given to other ears that made it back around to you hit a sore spot. It is easier to slip away to the sound of birds and water, where the monsters have no footing and no one's actions or words to use against you. Eventually you can let it go or you face the tedious monsters in your head again, fighting each other with logic accepting it's painful assessments or disproving them. When life is going your way, it is easy to stay up. When challenges come up or you feel down it is easier for the monsters to take center stage. It is hard to smile past their non-stop unfiltered assessment of you; it can be hard to even hear or see what those around you are really saying or doing and they never see or hear the enemies they don't even know you're fighting.

I've learned to use meditation, to take time to myself to refocus. To reach out to friends who've made it past the walls and know the shape of the fiends. It is amazing how quickly one well placed quip or even the sound of a beloved friend's voice can turn the tide. These monsters, they aren't fought with violence. They are fought with patience, love and communication. I know as I tell you this that every day, in your head you face your own. I just want to you know, I understand. We are the most powerful weapons in the fight against these monsters. Giving each other time, respect, kindness, trust, a chance to communicate and destroy dangerous assumptions. Are you up for climbing waterfalls? Navigating past the tears and through the challenges of healing?

Brittlebrush Flowers Brighten the Winter Desert