We had the privilege of visiting Antelope canyons during our road trip this summer. It taught me so much, and I am grateful to be able to share the gifts of what it taught me. Antelope canyon is on the Diné reservation in Arizona, and it brought me such peace that most of the tour companies are native owned.
Our guide explained how the sandstone formed, and even did the magic trick of making a sandstone formation with water and sand. I was amazed at the process, but it reminded me of the power of small simple steps. And how powerful it can be to continue layer by layer of action. If you zoom in to see the layers of sandstone on the pictures, each layer is what happens when sand blows around, then is solidified in place by water when it rains. It’s the constant baking of sediment runoff, then more layers every time it rains. Over time, it compounds and the pressure of all that sand eventually turns it into sandstone.
How powerful to realize that our actions can mimic that of nature. A whole lifetime of choices could produce such beauty that layer upon layer of events happening to us as individuals create such works of art that others could benefit from years after we die. This is the legacy I want to leave, and the sandstone reminds me that it’s a step at a time, a commitment at a time, and a choice at a time.
Many people have made the comment to me that it looks like I live a very magical life. To be honest, I’ve lowered my bills, live in community, share resources, and I’m able to save up enough money to go on these excursions. It also helps to camp at free campsites, which involves a lot of planning for a road trip. There are many variables you can control, while a lot that you can’t. When I try to explain to people the joy of connecting with the land, I have had some peoples’ eyes gloss over when I start talking about composting toilets or getting their hands dirty by weeding. Their automatic response feels like a pulling away energetically in conversation when they go, “It’s not for me”. Then there’s this barrier I feel, like standing on the other side of the slot canyon. I can see the other side, but it can be hard to reach or connect.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to know what your limits and boundaries are in terms of what makes you happy and comfortable in life. I share my passion openly about wanting to live off grid, to be able to grow my own food, and share this “burden” with a group of people who have the same values. I notice that sometimes when I share this passion, I see the disconnect that it creates when I engage with some people. They mark me with various labels so they can categorize me in the “that’s nice” category, filing me under “tree hugger” “hippy” or “granola”. I see my lifestyle as nothing more than a fantasy to them. Something that’s full of hard work, roughing it, and sacrificing a lot.
Yes, I admit that when I get used to air conditioning, it’s hard to go back outside when it’s so hot out. But when I live without, I just use fans and choose the temporary discomfort of the outdoors to prioritize my connection to nature. Yes. It’s that important to me, because I find the value of nature and being in relationship with it means a lot to me. There are so many ways that we as humans could live in harmony with nature, but it starts with baby steps. Just like the layers that it takes to build sandstone. And just as Mother Nature creates, she also destroys. The things that are parts of the old lifestyle that need to die will be washed away like the walkable paths of the slot canyons. So many people talk about the economy collapsing, but I’m not as worried because I’ve got grass roots connections where I’ll be okay if the supply chain conditions worsen and grocery stores aren’t carrying as much food.
My life isn’t a fantasy. It’s real. I’m living dreams I never dared to dream over a decade ago. I’ve met so many amazing people in my travels that I no longer feel lonely about living “more green”. Instead, I’m inspired by the people I visit, places I stay, and the thing deepest to my heart – the land that speaks to me in whispering sand, echoes of wind, and fire trapped in stone. But yet to many, it’s unachievable. So I stand in the slot canyons, inspired in awe at the beauty of the natural world, while many people drift by with their eyes glued to their phone. Because from above, a slot canyon can just look like a crack in the ground.
I ask how I can bridge this gap and connect? The answer I feel in my bones is knowing what is mine to do. I’m not meant to connect to everyone, and no one human is meant to do it all. I’ll connect with those in the slot canyon that wish to appreciate beauty for what it is. I choose connection in the other people looking up in awe.
I’m just here sharing the threads of my life, and the foundation that builds me just as much as I allow myself to be built. Layer by layer, and one step at a time. Thanks for listening.