Lake Powell NRA, Arizona.
In the early morning, when the sun is new to the sky, the slickrock loses its smooth appearance. Every pebble, bump, and ridge in the rock stands out in low relief in the directional light. My vision sweeps along those shadows, admiring the color at this hour, before it flattens as the sun climbs higher. Where aprons slope down to the desert floor, I climb the ramp, following highways suggested by nothing more than colored swirls in the layers of sandstone. The view across the landscape here, on the edge of the Navajo reservation, is epic west. There is a Diné word, hózhó, which roughly translates to balance and harmony, although it's much more than that...it is a state of order and grace we attain, one of well being between ourselves and the earth, and of where we stand between sickness and health, good and evil, happiness and sadness. There is a male/female element to this creation story, of how First Man and First Woman together created the four sacred mountains, the light, the dark, the stars, the very sky…and so hózhó is encompassed in our relationships as well. I see hózhó as a Oneness --your history, your land, your presence, your love. I live in a city, living a lifestyle that pays the bills, but mostly lacks satisfaction of the soul. My senses come alive in wilder places: deserts, forests, mountains and coasts. I go when I am able. I have a bond I cannot explain, renewed when I return, the wilderness giving up her secrets while I breathe it, wear it, and dream it. But try as I might, after days of immersing myself in unparalleled natural beauty, I cannot attain hózhó. I've found the hardest thing in life is to have all the elements of your world aligned. It is so easy for any failure to spawn distrust, and soon the rotation wobbles. There's a reason I find myself out here. I have to remind myself that creation is a constant, and in this discordant landscape I will begin to see order, promise,