The last curve of the sun slipped behind the rock formation at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. I sat on a slab of primeval rock in semi-lotus posture while engaging in meditation.
Two days ago I left San Francisco and the Bay Area after a visit with family and friends. I decided to take the scenic route through Yosemite, Death Valley, and Las Vegas with an extended stop in Northern Arizona around the Grand Canyon area. I had a room at the town of Marble Canyon, so I could take my time without any concerns about finding a bed for the night.
I had earlier enjoyed a solitary day investigating some archaeological sites including a ceremonial pit called a kiva. It is believed that ancient ancestors of the Pueblo People built and used these structures for holy, religious purposes. The kiva was similar to some I’ve seen in the state of New Mexico.
The southwestern indian tribes hold a fascination to me because of their mysterious origins and their ability to survive in the harsh, arid, desert conditions of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona. This interest was magnified by my most recent reading material. I had packed a couple of old books to re-read in my motel rooms. One of the books was *The Power Of Silence–Further Lessons of don Juan* written by Carlos Castaneda.
I enjoyed reading about Castaneda’s peyote fueled psychic adventures in Mexico. I imagined that perhaps some of his mental excursions also took place amongst the kivas and villages in Arizona and New Mexico. Such literature is the stuff of old school, new age spirituality. Heady stuff that was first made popular during the Flower Power era of the free love, psychedelic culture of Haight Ashbury. Free-form psychological exploration then being the norm.
Anyway, time to shift mental gears. My monkey mind had been daydreaming about my visit to San Francisco. Now, I was sitting in one of nature’s most magnificent visual feasts at sunset. I needed to focus onto the present vistas and the richness of the Grand Canyon.
The western sky was rapidly becoming filled with stars. There was only a sliver of pink and orange at the horizon. The desert Autumn air had cooled considerably fast. I slipped into my favorite grey, hooded sweatshirt. I re-entered formal meditation. The only illumination came from the constellations above. The only sounds were small rodents and lizards scratching their way through the brush not far away.
I let it all come and go, focusing on the chasm below.
A car drove into the parking area. The engine stopped. A young man about my age stepped out of the older model Dodge. He stood at the edge of the viewing area smoking his cigarette. The young man looked towards my Datsun, then spotted me. He looked around the chasm for another minute. Crushed out his smoke in the gravel and buried it. The fellow looked back at me. Our eyes met. We nodded at each other. Then he entered his car and drove onto the northbound lane of the highway.
I tried to return to meditation, but it wasn’t working. The air was more chilly, the small animals were getting closer. Were there snakes? I didn’t know and had no desire to stick around to find out. The mystical spell was broken. I ambled reluctantly to my little Datsun coupe, slid onto the seat and slammed the door.
I sat in silence inside the car for maybe five minutes. Sipped some cold coffee, lit a cigarette and started the engine. Before easing out the clutch, I made sure the gear was in reverse. I’d sure hate to go forward, into the canyon.
Soon I was northbound on Highway 67 heading towards Jacob Lake and to the 89A intersection. It wasn’t until I was eastbound from Jacob Lake about ten miles when the urgent need to void the bladder became apparent. Where to go? What to do? There are no restrooms in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t want to pollute the pristine landscape. I found a turn off with a dilapidated picnic table at the side of the road. I pulled the Datsun into the siding and shut off the engine. I found a large boulder and took refuge behind it as I took care of mother nature’s call.
The nearly full moon had just cleared the eastern ridge. I felt ecstatic with joy at the sight. I didn’t want to hear the traffic on the highway, so I climbed a scattering of rocks to the south, and away from the road. I just stood in my tracks while I watched the large disc of the moon very slowly climb into the sky.
I decided then was a good time to return to the car so I could catch some sleep in Marble Canyon. All of a sudden there came a clattering of rocks maybe 100 feet behind me.
What or who could it be? Does he, she or it know I’m here? My car is in the picnic area, of course someone or something knows I’m here.
“Clatter, clatter, clunk!”
Oh crap, the whatever thing, was coming towards me.
I soon decided to get out of the rocks and hit the road. I tried to make my way silently. I figured I’d need to circle around whatever was making its way towards me. “Clatter, clatter!” came from my own feet this time.
Damn, now it will be able to find me faster!
“Clatter, clatter, clatter, clunk!”
I turn towards the northwest to make a loop around the source of the footsteps. The person or creature seemed to be walking parallel to my intended path. It could cut me off whatever I do. There’s no way I dared to run. I had no knowledge of the landscape. Besides, I could trip on the rocks and twist an ankle.
I was getting hungry and tired. There was no way around whatever or whomever was between me and my car.
“Clatter, clatter, clatter….
It’s time to end part one.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes you’ll be back for the conclusion tomorrow.