Grand Canyon sunset

“All that we are concerned with is turning your attention to the real things outside.”

John C. Merriam, 1925, Founder of the Yavapai Point Museum, Words found on a museum plaque

This week my husband and I traveled to Sedona and Grand Canyon, Arizona. I suggest you make the trip yourself sometime because my words or photos will not capture my or your experience.

For now, I invite you to practice John C. Merriam’s words: turn your attention to the real things outside. Just take a mini vacation right where you are, wander or wonder for awhile, then return to read.

For me, I am back home in my one bedroom condo in Seattle. There are piles of mail, newspapers, catalogs, clean clothes, dirty clothes, and dishes, all shorter than yesterday. I am sitting in my black desk chair; my posture is poor so I shift to a better position to continue my work. Out my window there are layers: snow white mountain tips, shorter darker mountains in front of them, and the closest layer is the greening of Bainbridge Island trees across the Puget Sound. It must be windy as there are white caps and no boats on the water. When I lean forward I can see the sail boats at Elliot Bay Marina and the red steel  tip of Alexander Calder’s Eagle sculpture in Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park. My breathing is relaxed and I feel happy.

Back to what’s going on inside my head, I must: get to those piles; get ready for tonight; tend to banking details and finish this post. My shoulders are getting tighter. The day after my husband and I left for vacation the Boston Marathon bombings happened. With all the beauty and inspiration we were experiencing, we could not forget the few images we saw on the news, in papers or on Facebook. At times, I chose to give the news no attention. Large flags flying at half mast, standing straight out in the strong winds, would not let me forget.

I gave my attention to the real things outside: the flapping flags and the grandeur of the Canyon. In doing so, I found that I was better able to deal with the real things going on inside. The inevitable pain and struggle we humans experience is not unlike the Grand Canyon. Uplift. Erosion. Colliding. Drifting apart. Relentless forces of moving water. Beauty. Inspiration. It will always be a changing landscape.

After hiking much of the South Rim and with little daylight left, we decided to take the shuttle bus to Hermits Rest on the west edge of the South Rim. I was a bit tired and queasy, but wanted to see the river along the way – all I could in a day.  I was on the wrong side of the bus to see the Canyon during the drive, so my attention was on the baby in the seat in front of me.  Her curious eyes landed on the the silver bar of the bus seat and widened. She reached.  The mother shifted her body so her baby could touch the bar. The girl looked, struggled to reach,  and when she finally did touch the bar, she smiled.  She continued to explore with her pointer finger and then her entire hand, tried to lick the shiny bar, went back to touching, smiling and  squealing with delight. The silver bus seat bar was her real thing outside which she attended to for the entire 40 minute ride.

This baby girl reminded me to wonder, to take regular moments to wonder wherever I am, whatever the real thing outside is. Someday it may be the silver metal bar of a hospital bed, walker or wheelchair. If so, I hope I can still wonder, return to whatever the real thing inside is – my breath.

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