I HAVE ARRIVED.
Complete stillness. Absolute silence. Deafening silence. This is why I came. The Greater Canyonlands area is special. It has a very purifying quality. Calms the mind. That is, once you are away from the Jeeps, ATVs, motorbikes, etc. You can get away from them. Quite easily if you try. But you have to be willing to walk. And it’s worth it.
It’s in these places that once you finally get to the point where you’re sitting still, doing nothing but contemplating the red cliffs, the dark canyons, and the blue sky, that you realize you’ve been here all along. Your whole life. Right here in this spot. Just witnessing.
Yes, I have been here before. On a similar rock, in a similar canyon. In a mountain meadow above treeline. On a beach on some distant shore, thousands of miles away. Yes, I’ve been here before. I mean HERE. I’m always trying to get back HERE. To that place where the mindless chatter finally stops. Where the details of my life melt away, and all that is left is right here. Right Now.
My God, I think. How long has it been this time? How long has it been since I stopped the mindless chatter in my head? I can’t remember. Weeks? Months? I stare into the maze of red rock formations over the horizon. Emotion sets in. Feelings of love. Gratitude. I have found GOD. Eden. If just for now.
THIS IS WHY I’VE COME.
Morning. Why am I out here in this desert? All alone. Why did I choose to put myself here? My mind searches for an answer. . .finds none. It’s cloudy. The wind has picked up. I fix myself a cup of coffee while still inside my tent, wrapped up in my bag. I stare out of the open tent door into the vast sea of sandstone ripples, and to the distant mountain range beyond.
The best spiritual teacher is the desert. And the mountains. And the sea. Mother Nature herself. Yes, I have been here before. To this place where my mind stops making so much noise. True vacation. A vacation from the self, and a celebration of me. HERE I AM. Not the Scott Stillman me, but the eternal me. The one that doesn’t come and go. The me that is you, and the rocks, and the sky. The animals and the plants. The distant stars, and the sand in my notebook.
Have I ever left this place? Have I been here all along? I ask the rocks. They seem indifferent. Yes? No? What difference does it make, they seem to say. A raven cries out. I understand. The incessant ramblings in between visits, are they real? Job. House. Bills. Computers. Internet. Thoughts. Cravings. Worries. Thoughts. Thoughts. Thoughts. They seem so far away now.
The clouds seem darker on the horizon. A blanket of peace settles in. I need nothing. I so need nothing.
The seed of enlightenment has been sown. It must be watered to grow.
Morning. Three inches of snow blankets the red rock and my camp. Stillness. Cold. Thermometer on my pack reads 15°. My camp is in the shade. Perfect spot for last night’s snowstorm, but now I want to be in the sun. I pack up early. 7:45 and on the trail. The sun is now lighting up everything around me. Brilliant. Skipped the coffee this morning, but I’m wildly alert. And warm.
Now sitting on a perfect sandstone ledge, baking in the sun, it’s time to finally make coffee. Have breakfast. Sit in wonder. It’s a Monday. Life is perfect. The snow on the sandstone is magnificent. Glowing in the sunshine. Should have brought the camera. But I forgot it on purpose. Just another distraction. Another gadget for my mind to latch on to. Figure out. I want to give all my attention to the desert. Submit to her completely. I don’t want to photograph her. I want to become her.
Gratitude. Love. Peace. The only thoughts that come to mind, in between the long gaps of no-thought, are thank you. Thank you. Thank you. For this moment. For this life. For this body. For this earth. For my wife. My family. A life fit for a king. Surrounded by beauty, and love.