Updated: Jan 12, 2022
I didn't sign up for this. I didn't know this much pain would come from loving this time. I just unraveled in a heap of sobs while describing to my mom, or rather trying to give some validation to, the impression that the amount of nights I've slept outdoors (more than half) in these last few years has had on me. Maybe I hadn't really understood it myself. They've changed me in ways I cannot possibly conceive to someone who did not stand under that lightening storm with me at the top of the Manti La Sal Mountains or lend their knee to keep me from sliding down slick rock of Escalante into a harrowing canyon below. I feel very trapped and alone being away from these people and those experiences a lot of time, when so many things outside of that feel inauthentic. There was a rawness, both painful and joyful, that was found in those moments that I welcomed with relief. Perhaps it was the cancer, or mental illness causing my 10 year old self to be on the brink of death by starvation, or the loss of my first love and fellow cancer fighter too young, or the neglect of a father in my life that has awakened me to scream into the bullshit complexities of our messy, superficial society. I always craved rawness. In falling so completely and fully in love with these wild spaces that just were, I gained the love I had lost for myself, as I am.
People do crazy things for the ones they love. Is it because of the wholeness we feel? The renewed sense of purpose so overpowering that you cannot deny the strength that comes from dealing with matters of the heart. And when that person or thing is stripped from you, what then?
In our current society we are so far removed from our natural world that we forget we were ever part of it. We forget that the same core elements that make up our fleshy bodies, also make up the soil and oceans around us. We scan the Earth for potential to sustain our ever-growing human populations and its desires. Where is the end? When the lands are scorched and the oceans are empty will we find it necessary to pick through the rotting bones to find their potential too? Every last drop, right. Will we even be here to do so?
So forgive me for speaking harshly, but I am losing what I love. I didn't ask for this. I am hurt, and angry, and sad all at the same time. When I opened myself up to the teachings of the canyon wrens and sandstone walls of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument I didn't know its protection would be gutted by our patriarchal, profit hungry government just a few short month later. When I signed up to be a glacier guide in Alaska I wasn't aware of just how rapidly these landscapes were changing due to climate change. The impact is unquestionable and heartbreaking.. Protections put in place for the preservation of not only our natural spaces but the health of the human population, including access to our most basic rights such as clean water and clean air, are being reversed across our nation at alarming rates.
I cannot contain this sense of loss. It consumes me these days. I had pranced around the desert sands with bare feet, staring up at walls millions of years old, trusting that they would be there for many more millions. My ignorance feels like a betrayal. Now I know too much to remain unaware and uneducated about the complex struggles between our natural world and human kind. We are fighting ourself. I feel powerless and struggle to understand how I can protect our natural spaces when the language of the economy, since colonization, has spoken louder than the language of beauty and science. But I cannot sit aside in complacency knowing I did nothing.