Here I sit at Inspiration Point.
At the brink of sunrise. An ironic place to end my journey. The crisp sharp air slowly dissipates, burnt away from the bright morning sun. A yellow glow awakens the vast castle-pink caves below.
Again, I am reminded:
And this. This thought. It’s freedom.
I’m a meager entity compared to the sweeping earth. An earth of which we humans fool-heartedly claim ownership. If anything, I’ve found I belong to the world, as much as I am a part of it.
I bare no title, no claim; no land is really mine, or any of ours.
The first time this thought ignited through my conscious mind was the afternoon I climbed a barrier to walk to the edge of a canyon, one they call Grand. I stepped farther and higher than I dared. When I realized that I was holding my breath, I sighed it out—a sound that would never reach the divide of vast rock, river, shrubbery.
If there was a God, or any such entity, He was there. The vastness made me weak in the knees. Should I have tumbled, the canyon would consume me—a mere speck.
What worth was I here?
Maybe it was the grandeur of the canyon or taking the time to get lost in the stars glittering through the Arizona sky, but I began to understand:
We’re a part of something bigger, a universe extensive and expansive.
As I stood on the edge of the canyon watching the backside of birds fluttering below me I realized, I was nothing and yet, a part of everything. We all are. It’s a liberating thought.
There’s more to life than my worries, my thoughts, my small identities.
It’s the best feeling in the entire world, because it’s freedom.
My journey crossed through a city that burdened my thoughts with its chaotic bustle—the dirt, the traffic, over population. Home, they called this place. Yet, they seek escape. How can your home be a place from which you must constantly escape?
A stubborn quest drove me to San Francisco. I had a horrible feeling in my gut but mistook it for nerves. I broke free, I claimed. But was I? Or was I a bird fleeing a cage only to realize it was still trapped in a bloody house.
From my arrival, I felt like I was willingly entering a prison. This false “reality.” I don’t buy into the shit force fed to us by “them.” Who are “they” anyway? Society.
We’re so afraid to oppose ghost long dead. Man. A complex, contrived species that I adore and yet, despise. We are more machine than man.
Enslaved by our phones, by screens, lost in light.
Plastic. Junk. Is that my mind? Where is my mind? Why can’t I cope? Just agree! Give in? Be happy in work you can’t put your heart behind? And for what?
For money? To buy things to define who I am. How can you identify yourself with material things when you don’t know who you are?
Riddle me this.
Riddle me that.
Don’t define me by names.
I am not belittled by perception. A perception of reality that might feel very real, but can we see beyond this illusion?
I am happy poor, yet frightened lost. Treading among sheep. Brainwashed. Mindless sheep with no opinions of their own, with minds that are spoon fed garbage by Fox News. Has Man come to this?
I fear, oh I fear, that I too might give in. I might succumb. I might falter to the machine. I might lose, and the pessimist in my heart says, “You cannot hope to prevail.”
Alas, I prevail as long as I can anyway.
I left, on this adventure, to find myself. I was searching for more—for happiness, for peace. My true self. As if she would be sitting on the side of the road waiting for me.
Space makes me happy. Trees.Trails. Quiet. Chirps. Falling pinecones. The soft gush of wind through the delicate tops of trees. The awe of nature. The fear and the bliss all at once. I’m not a city girl. I suffocate.
The synthetic quality and constricting air engulfed me. The second I crossed that golden bridge I felt myself take what felt like my first breath in ages.
I felt free.
My dormant soul was awakened among gigantic red trees that towered over me in a more awe-inspiring and protective quality than any building or skyscraper could provide.
Give me nature.
Give me fields I can run through with my hair flying through the fighting wind.
This is freedom.
You see, the forest cares not that I combed my unruly hair today. The mountains care not I plastered my face with make-up. Ah, and when the sun kisses my face I’ve never felt more beautiful.
The river that rushes over rock and tosses me about cares not about my vocation, my poverty or wealth. It would kill me regardless. I’m not more important than any other creature, even those similar to me.
I’ve lost my mind under the stars, the universe. It’s a quiet, taunting, majestic reminder: I am only guaranteed now.
It’s folly and naive to presume that one can plan the future, much less a few hours from now. Life is like scaling to the top of a canyon thousands of feet in the air. You can’t look behind or too far ahead or you will tumble to ruin. You must focus on the present at hand. The here and now. And sometimes rocks will barricade a path you were hell bent on going. There is always another path.
Today, I vow to live as the forests, the mountains, wind, rivers, rocks, birds, deer, elk, bees, flies, plants, and stars have taught me. Live for today, for me, for others.
Here I sit at Inspiration Point, at the end, nay, at the beginning of my journey.
Author: Elizabeth Brumfield
Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s own.