87°F. Clear skies. Warm wind. The upper desert in the early fall. I sit in the shade of a juniper sipping fine tequila after a 5 hour mountain bike excursion through rough, remote desert terrain. Sand. Loose rocks. Lizards. Ravens. Paradise. Drove out here after work yesterday. Five hours through the dark night. Strong coffee and carefully selected music guiding me. Along with the anticipation of finally turning off that paved road and onto the slickrock and sand that will take me to my home for the next few days. My trusted Corolla always getting me there. Over the rocks. Ledges. Sand. Ruts. I have yet to get her stuck. For very long that is. Sometimes I have to get out and build road. Move a rock out of the way. Create a ramp to get me over an embankment. But that’s part of the adventure. I arrive at camp. Spread out tarp, thermorest, and sleeping bag. No need for a tent tonight. When I finally lie down, instantly a shooting star flies overhead. Then another. Some lasting several seconds as they fly through the sky. This goes on until I fall asleep.
Dawn. The desert welcomes me. Purple. Then pink. Then orange. Then the fiery ball that lures me out of my bag. Coffee. Burrito. It’s now that I realize I’ve forgotten about dinner for tomorrow night. I’ll figure something out. Pack camelbak with plenty of water. 3 power bars. Dowse my shirt and head with water. A frivolous attempt, for it will evaporate within minutes. And head out for my adventure in the desert sun. Alone. Why? A question I often get asked by my family. Because it worked out that way? Because I planned this trip only 2 days ago? Could be. I look up from my journal and out over the canyons. An undetermined amount of time goes by. Silence. Wind. Ravens riding the waves in the air. I sigh. The waves wash over me. Bathing me in warm gratitude. Love for the sake of love. One Raven lands on a bluff close to me. Beautifully dark and mysterious, yet wise. I fall hopelessly and completely in love with her. A relationship that will last only a few seconds. But I’ll cherish it forever. The rocks, they will remain. Fixed in their place till the end of my days. But the wind and the water will erode them away too. Everything changing. Yet staying the same. Yin. Yang. The universe unfolds herself before my eyes. The stage is set. Light and dark. A dazzling display of color. I close my eyes. And in an instant, it’s all gone. Nothing but darkness and thought. I reopen them and the great movie resumes. Right where we left off. And it goes on. An on. And on.
~ Scott Stillman