Notes from Janey . . .
Before our main winter tour begins at the end of November, Tupelo and I have made a tradition the last four years of stopping by the Grand Canyon on our way south.
We have visited the Grand Canyon many times, and each time has been a unique experience. One Thanksgiving, it snowed. The beauty was astounding.
Layers of white drifted down, settling in waves along the red and blonde cliffs. The primordial and bent cedars stood black against the fog lifting up from the depths below. Ancient voices could be heard in the silence. Magical.
One evening, after a fabulous afternoon of hiking the rim trail, Tupelo and I were heading back to catch our musical friend’s show at the Bright Angel Lodge. The shuttle was packed with the sunset crowd and now it was growing dark and chilly. Like us, everyone was tired and hungry.
The shuttle stopped to let on more people. Everyone gave way to a man with a white cane, and a young man graciously gave up his seat. As the shuttle continued down the darkened road, I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like to be at the Grand Canyon but couldn’t see it. What kind of an experience was this man having? We had just witnessed a spectacular sunset. I hoped I appreciated it enough. I hope I didn’t take it for granted. Then I felt guilty, because until that moment, I had. I was fascinated thinking about the sightless man and what being here was like for him.
At the next stop, more people crammed on. Kids got up and gave a couple the seat behind us.
When we were underway, the man said to his wife, “I don’t know– I guess I was expecting more.”
She didn’t comment. Perhaps she was as astounded as I. Expecting more? The Grand Canyon wasn’t enough for him? I immediately looked at the blind man across the way. He was smiling. Was the Grand Canyon enough for him? I ventured it was. But the guy behind me, with good eyesight and in full capacity of his mind and limbs was disappointed.
This blew me away.
And then I thought of how the natives of the Pacific islands did not see the tall ships on the horizon as they sailed in with Captain Cook at the helm. The image was so foreign to them, their brains could not comprehend what their eyes beheld. The synapses didn’t connect, therefore, the ships were invisible. Only when the shaman saw them and described the image could they finally see the ships. They did not understand what they saw, but they could at last see them.
I’m thinking now that this man could not see the Grand Canyon because his TV-trained brain didn’t comprehend what was there at his feet. He was blind to the fact that it was so magnificent. He expected more, because he was unable to grasp the magnificence.
This made me feel better and I immediately gave him some slack.
I turned my thoughts inward. I wondered what I was missing because my eyes, unable to send the right messages to my brain, skewed my perceptions and gave false images. I wondered, what is right here now, a mere breath width away, but invisible to me? Hashing this over kept me occupied for the rest of the bumpy ride to the station.
I came to this conclusion: In life, if we use all the senses we are given and throw them wide open, perhaps we may see some astonishing, unexplained things along the way. If this happens, surely, life will never disappoint.
(Article and photos by Janey Wing Kenyon)
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