A Spiritual Experience with Rocks

Question: Would you rather live the rest of your life…

A. Beside the Ocean;  B. In the midst of a mountain range;  C. In the middle of a deep dense forest, D. Or in the middle of a desert?

Now obviously it would be wonderful if they all intertwine, and you can have everything, or at least a combination – but if we had to choose, it’s interesting to see how people would respond.  It’s one of my favorite questions to ask people, because it allows us to think about how we connect with nature.

I’m an ocean girl myself being from the Westcoast, but I also have a strong affinity with rocks.  Any kind of rock, any interesting geologic landscape.  I guess it couldn’t be avoided – my dad was a geography teacher, and as a young child, any time we would go on road trips our family would play “Name that Rock”.  We would have to identify the rock type as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic.. super fun right?!

But those things stick with you. We arrived in Joshua Tree last week and my mind was blown again with the colour of the red rocks against the bright blue sky.  We hiked to Devil’s Bridge — well worth it for the view, and the gorgeous rock formations.

Devil's BridgeAfter 3 days in Sedona we headed up to the Grand Canyon since Daryl had never been.  We drove down Desert View Highway, one of the most gorgeous drives I’ve ever done, and through the park just as the sun was beginning to set on the canyon.  We stayed in the park that night and went out to see the stars once everything was dark.  We stood on the edge of the canyon at a look-out that hours before had been filled with people clamouring for the best shot, Ipads in hand, and now it was empty.  Just us, the rocks, and the Milky Way.

grand canyon

My sister lives in LA, and the west coast was calling, so from the Grand Canyon we headed west, along Route 66, and through the Mojave Desert to Joshua Tree.  We were exhausted after 7 hours of driving, questioning whether this trip had been too ambitious for two tired teachers.  But then we were reminded that Joshua Tree catches you by surprise.. It reels you in, the piles of rocks, the scraggly trees, the bright blue skies. The weird, but oddly enjoyable vibe of 29 Palms, and the vast desert that seems to extend forever.

Joshua Tree

We finally made it to the coast, and are now relaxing on the beach with the waves crashing around us… but after a week in the desert I can hear my father’s voice in my ear reminding me that sedimentary rocks have lots to offer because they help create beautiful landscapes.  And I am reminded that a U.S. road trip can take your breath away in a second.

So where would you rather spend the rest of your life?  The ocean, the forest, the mountains or the desert…. they each can make a great argument.  And those rocks can grab you.


4 thoughts on “A Spiritual Experience with Rocks

  1. Beautiful Post – love your captures:) I actually enjoy living in the high desert surrounded by mountains with the forests and ocean just hours from me. Happy New Year – Happy Adventuring in 2014!!!

  2. What a wonderful post! It looks and sounds like this break has been restorative for you, I can’t imagine two more deserving people. I’m going to attempt a reply to your question:
    I choose ‘A’ – the ocean. I was raised on, in and beside it. But I agree whole-heartedly with you, Alana, the question begs a discussion on why and how we commune with nature. Why the ocean?
    Because I know her… not like a master knows his craft, but more like how you know an old friend. This old friend I love dearly, seek comfort beside, tell my secrets to, and am mildly afraid of. The ocean challenges me to be my best human, every time I engage with her. She’s thrown snakes at me, shredded my skin, hid my precious belongings, cushioned my brave-kid jumps from Big Rock and the cliff, and has given countless crabs, prawns, salmon and cod to my stomach. After my shoreline campfires (of which she delivers the wood I burn), the ocean wipes clean my footprints and ashes with the tide. I’ve sought passage many times on her shoulders in high winds, heavy currents and strong tides – and she has delivered me safely every time. In such conditions, however, she demands me to be alert, humble, wise and incredibly respectful of what the ocean is capable of. And in return, she shows me the best parts of myself.
    This summer I was paddling in a 13km race against an eminent current and tide change. I was marvelling about how smoothly it was all going (ahead of schedule!) when my over-confidence was noticed by the Salish Sea. Instead of dumping my boat or switching currents on me, she simply began to to claim my prized personal belongings. Before I could react, my sunglasses, then my coveted paddle-biner were swooped into the dark depths. In a moment of questioning and clarity, I became self-aware…or at least realized that I would lose a lot of valuable shit if I didn’t keep it in check. I still consider this a small price to pay for that lesson; better my stuff than me down there.
    Beyond my small world, the ocean cleans and absorbs much of the worst of mankind. Serving as a thermostat on the planet’s health, our massive water bodies give us fair warning (as did the Salish Sea) when we are over-stepping our bounds. Oh, and are we ever over-stepping our bounds! Nature provides all things needed to live, and gives unselfishly. She shows us the values of patience, perseverance and kindness. Why I will continue my lifelong need to commune with nature and the ocean is all about attempting to revisit the DEBT I owe her for all she has done for me.

    • Wendi – thanks for the thoughtful and amazing reply. you are so right about the ocean – it does demand us to be humble, wise and respectful. I have no idea why humans underestimate flowing water! I really appreciate the time and care you took in responding to this post, happy new year!

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