Time away changes things. You begin a trip thinking of home, still attached to the computer and the daily rituals of taking care of animals, plants, work, and the usual round of worries: money, job, health care, the cost of living, politics, etc. Something happens though, about half way through the journey, and you notice that all of the usual angst and pontificating about aging, death, loss and illness has disappeared from your mind. You are intensely in the present moment, living life as it unfolds in front of you. Then, at some point, you realize how intensely happy you have been and are.
Something about the Grand Canyon blows out all the fluff and mental debris that accumulates over time; when you sit on a rock and look down for miles and see the ribbon of green, rushing water that created this impossible masterpiece, you feel completely tied to eternity and nothing else exists or matters but now, the now of you and the canyon, the wind, the scent of wild rosemary and the feel of the warm rocks on your thighs. A single thought hit me with the force of an epiphany: I am a part of this. I am nature, and nature is me--this is the truth, and as I let it sink in, I cried. I thanked whatever or whoever set this world in motion, so that I could sit here on this day and watch the ravens catch the updrafts from the bottom of the canyon.
Every trip changes the traveler, and this trip was no exception. The three of us solidified our family bond, knowing that once you have braved 116 degrees in Phoenix, explored a ghost town for three hours in blazing heat, petted llamas together, hunted ghosts in the Jerome Grand Hotel and ate venison at El Tovar, you are a team. Eight days of constant togetherness will either drive everyone apart, or forge stronger bonds than ever before; now I look at Imanya and Ty and realize that yet again, we are cementing a process that started over five years ago.
We spent many quiet moments lost in the grandeur of the canyons, each of us with separate experiences yet a common understanding that what we were experiencing was priceless, and was transforming us in profoundly personal ways. We will always have this trip as a point of reference, the secret code of the travelers; while I may never know exactly what Ty and Imanya were feeling or thinking as they wandered around the rim and down into the canyon, I know that we were together, and that this trip will be a point of reference in the future, never to be forgotten.