I'm an indoors person. I'm not afraid of the outdoors and I penetrate it easily and cheerfully. However, I must admit I like Central Park better than the wilderness, and I like the canyons of Manhattan better than Central Park, and I like the interior of my apartment better than the canyons of Manhattan, and I like my two rooms better with the shades down at all times than with the shades up. I'm not an agoraphobe at all, but I am a claustrophile, if you see the distinction.
There is a place where the mountains tumble one upon the other off into the far distance, peak after treeless peak. Steep ridges connect them and deep canyons slash them apart. The grassy summits are wreathed with black sage. No roads intrude upon this jumble of oak-filled canyons and steep-sided hills, only the ambling trails made by deer, coyotes, and bears. The local Indians believe the spirits of the ancients still travel these roads.
R Lawson Gamble
To the Taoist mentality, the aimless, empty life does not suggest anything depressing. On the contrary, it suggests the freedom of clouds and mountain streams, wandering nowhere, of flowers in impenetrable canyons, beautiful for no one to see, and of the ocean surf forever washing the sand, to no end.
Come with me, the river said, close your eyes and quiet your limbs and float with me into the wonder and mystery of the canyons, see the unknown and the little known, look upon the stone gods face to face, see Medusa, drink my waters, hear my song, feel my power, come along and drift with me toward the distant, ultimate and legendary sea....
A river finds its course with sureness, pushing aside whatever surface matter lies in its way, and as it gathers volume and resulting strength, nothing can withstand its progress. It carves canyons, moves great boulders, erodes the soil, moving insistently onward in its surging need to reach its final goal - the ocean.
I fly myself everywhere. I like all kinds of flying, including practical flying for search and rescue. And I also like to fly into the backcountry, usually the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho. I go with a group of friends, and we set up camp for about five days and explore little dirt strips and canyons.
Have you ever stood where a stream spills into a river? The two become one. They laugh over the stones together, twist through the sharp canyons together, plunge down the waterfalls together. It is the same when a man and woman love one another. It is not always a pleasant thing, but when it happens, a man has little to say about it. Women, like streams, can be smooth one minute and make a man feel like he's swimming through white water the next.
Men need to know the elemental challenges that sea and mountains present. They need to know what it is to be alive and to survive when great storms come. They need to unlock the secrets of streams, lakes, and canyons and to find how these treasures are veritable storehouses of inspiration. They must experience the sense of mastery of adversity. They must find a peak or a ridge that they can reach under their own power alone.
William O. Douglas
Any one who has stood upon a lofty summit and gazed over an inchoate tangle of deep canyons and cragged mountains, of sunlit lakelets and black expanses of forest, has become aware of a certain giddy sensation that there are no distances, no measures, simply unrelated matter rising and falling without any analogy to the banal geometry of breadth, thickness, and height.
Our lives are a journey. As we move forward, we will not only figuratively experience the geography of life: the exhilaration of high mountains, the tranquility of calm meadows, the isolation of treacherous canyons, but we will also experience the seasons of life: the hope of spring, the abundance of summer, the harvest of autumn, and yes, the darkness and depression of winter.
Seth Adam Smith
Water is patient; it can stagnate and let itself be coated with scum if need be. It is as gentle as the morning's dew. It is non-confrontational, even respectful, in circumventing the rocks in a stream. It makes room for everything that enters its pools. It accommodates by assuming the shape of any vessel it is poured into. And it is humble, seeking always the lowest level. Yet along with - or rather because of these adaptive, yielding properties, it is ultimately irresistible; it carves canyons out of stone.
And so we polish our own lives, creating landscapes and canyons and peaks with the very silt we try to avoid, the dirt we disavow or hide or deny. It is the dirt of our lives""the depressions, the losses, the inequities, the failing grades in trigonometry, the e-mails sent in fear or hate or haste, the ways in which we encounter people different from us""that shape us, polish us to a heady sheen, make us in fact more beautiful, more elemental, more artful and lasting.
Terry Tempest Williams
How remote we were too from the crazy musicians who arrived on a blustery fall day with the idea that, since this was a financial center, there would be a rain of coins from the tall buildings in response to their trumpet, guitar, and bass fiddle. The wind swirled their jazz among the canyons. I saw that no one was paying them the slightest attention. Feeling guilty, I threw them a quarter, but they didn't see it. They danced and made jazz in the cold, while upstairs we went on with our work, and they didn't exist, and it was nobody's fault.
Each thing organizes the space around it, rebuffing or sidling up against other things; each thing calls, gestures, beckons to other beings or battles them for our attention; things expose themselves to the sun or retreat among the shadows, shouting with their loud colors or whispering with their seeds; rocks snag lichen spores from the air and shelter spiders under their flanks; clouds converse with the fathomless blue and metamorphose into one another; they spill rain upon the land, which gathers in rivulets and carves out canyons...
Give me a hot coal glowing bright red, Give me an ember sizzling with heat, These are the jewels made from my beak. We fly between the flames and never get singed We plunge through the smoke and never cringe. The secrets of fire, its strange winds, its rages, We know it all as it rampages Through forests, through canyons, Up hillsides and down. We track it. We'll find it. Take coals by the pound. We'll yarp in the heart of the hottest flame Then bring back its coals an make them tame. For we are the colliers brave and beyond all We are the owls of the colliering chaw!
Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved. There was science in each curve of an airfoil, in each angle between strut and wire, in the gap of a spark plug or the color of the exhaust flame. There was freedom in the unlimited horizon, on the open fields where one landed. A pilot was surrounded by beauty of earth and sky. He brushed treetops with the birds, leapt valleys and rivers, explored the cloud canyons he had gazed at as a child. Adventure lay in each puff of wind.
From the ruins, lonely and inexplicable as the sphinx, rose the Empire State Building. And just as it had been tradition of mine to climb to the Plaza roof to take leave of the beautiful city extending as far as the eyes could see, so now I went to the roof of that last and most magnificent of towers. Then I understood. Everything was explained. I had discovered the crowning error of the city. Its Pandora's box. Full of vaunting pride, the New Yorker had climbed here, and seen with dismay what he had never suspected. That the city was not the endless sucession of canyons that he had supposed, but that it had limits, fading out into the country on all sides into an expanse of green and blue. That alone was limitless. And with the awful realization that New York was a city after all and not a universe, the whole shining ediface that he had reared in his mind came crashing down. That was the gift of Alfred Smith to the citizens of New York.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
A year ago, I was at a dinner in Amsterdam when the question came up of whether each of us loved his or her country. The German shuddered, the Dutch were equivocal, the Brit said he was "comfortable" with Britain, the expatriate American said no. And I said yes. Driving across the arid lands, the red lands, I wondered what it was I loved. the places, the sagebrush basins, the rivers digging themselves deep canyons through arid lands, the incomparable cloud formations of summer monsoons, the way the underside of clouds turns the same blue as the underside of a great blue heron's wings when the storm is about to break. Beyond that, for anything you can say about the United States, you can also say the opposite: we're rootless except we're also the Hopi, who haven't moved in several centuries; we're violent except we're also the Franciscans nonviolently resisting nucelar weapons out here; we're consumers except the West is studded with visionary environmentalists... and the landscape of the West seems like the stage on which such dramas are played out, a space without boundaries, in which anything can be realized, a moral ground, out here where your shadow can stretch hundreds of feet just before sunset, where you loom large, and lonely.
In the beginning - in the early days - they said, "We are making the world better. When we came to this place there was nothing except forest and wild animals and people who ran around naked. We have ended this. We have cut down trees and planted gardens. We have made meadows where we can raise the kind of animals we like. We have taught the naked people how to wear clothing. All this is good! And look at the other things we've done! We have dug rivers and brought water into our gardens. We have turned dry canyons into lakes. Now there is more food. Now there can be more people. Now our villages can grow large and rich!" 'After a while they began to notice that the world did not seem to be a better place. Everything seemed smaller and dirtier. Everything was wearing out - the soil, the hills, the rivers and lakes. The people said, "There is nothing new in this. There have always been places where the land is thin and useless. There have always been rivers where the water is not fit to drink. There is no problem." 'Things kept getting worse. Now the people said, "For everything that is gained, something must be lost. Look at what we have gained! Look at our villages full of big houses! Look at our houses full of many gifts! The forests that are gone have come back to us in gold. The rivers we cannot drink from have become jars full of bara." 'Finally everything became so bad that no one could come up with anything comforting to say. Then the people said, "Change is impossible. It's already too late. Anyway, we don't really mind the way things are."' I paused. 'Those are the four kinds of lie the people told. "We are making things better." "There is no problem." "There are no real gifts." "It is too late to change.
Did you ever think that maybe we're like that?' she asks me. I smile into the dark. How many times have I thought of myself as the ocean? 'You think we're like water?' Gemma sits up. The salty wind coming off the water snaps her hair around her shoulders. With one hand in the middle of my chest, she tries to push me into the sand. I'm strong enough to hold her off, but I don't want to. I willingly collapse back and she crawls over me. Holding a smile on her face, she slips her legs on either side of my hips and settles her weight on me. In a voice thin as smoke, she says, 'Well, maybe that's how we start. Maybe, in the beginning, we're nothing but a theoretical vast and empty sea with this huge open sky above us.' Her hands press down on my stomach and her fingers pull at the bottom of my shirt. She leans forward until her breasts are rubbing against me and her mouth is almost touching the skin of my neck. 'Then slowly, ' she continues, 'over time, the currents change and we build up these continents inside our bodies.' Now her fingers walk a path from my bellybutton to my sternum. 'And eventually, we have canyons and deserts and trees and beaches and all sorts of places where we can go and live.' I suck in a breath as Gemma flattens her hand on the skin just above my heart and kisses me just below my ear. Then she turns her face, fitting the crown of her head beneath my jaw and says, 'Most of the time we're safe on the land, but sometimes we get sucked out to sea. What do you think happens then?' I think about everything we've shared today. I think about Gemma and me. And how it feels like the geography inside of my own body is changing, how it's been changing from the moment I met her. Maybe even before that. And I think about the continents we're building between us. The bridges of land moving from her fingers to mine and the valleys and mountains formed by her lips on my skin and her words in my head. I use both of my hands to cup her face and pull her to my mouth. I press my lips to hers, parting her mouth and drinking in her breath. 'I think you'd have to start swimming.' A minute of silence ticks by. Over the low drone of the waves on the beach, she whispers, 'And what if you can't swim very well?' I think for a minute. 'Then you fly.
I have hazarded into a new corner of the world, an unknown spot, a Brigadoon. Before me extends a low hill trembling in yellow brome, and behind the hill, filling the sky, rises an enormous mountain ridge, forested, alive and awesome with brilliant blown lights. I have never seen anything so tremulous and live. Overhead, great strips and chunks of cloud dash to the northwest in a gold rush. At my back the sun is setting- how can I have not noticed before that the sun is setting? My mind has been a blank slab of black asphalt for hours, but that doesn't stop the sun's wild wheel. I set my coffee on the curb; I smell loam on the wind; I pat the puppy; I watch the mountain. Shadows lope along the mountain's rumpled flanks; they elongate like root tips, like lobes of spilling water, faster and faster. A warm purple pigment pools in each ruck and tuck of the rock; it deepens and spreads, boring crevasses, canyons. As the purple vaults and slides, it tricks out the unleafed forest and rumpled rock in gilt, in shape-shifting patches of glow. These gold lights veer and retract, shatter, and glide in a series of dazzling splashes, shrinking, leaking, exploding. The ridge's bosses and hummocks sprout bulging from its sides; the whole mountain looms miles closer; the light warms and reddens; the bare forest folds and pleats itself like living protoplasm before my eyes, like a running chart, a wildly scrawling oscillography on the present moment. The air cools; the puppy's skin is hot. I am more alive than all the world. This is it, I think, this is it, right now, the present, this empty gas station, here, this western wind, this tang of coffee on the tongue, and I am patting the puppy, I am watching the mountain. Version 1 (joy)