Fear, desire. Lightness and dark. The polar opposites are said to be interrelated.
But that doesn’t seem to match our perceptions of reality. I mean, do people fearing some awful event actually have a secret or subconscious desire for that event to happen? Self-flagellation??
I’m not really sure.
There is a growing body of literature talking about our power to manifest the things we want in life. And I’m not sure how much credence to put in that line of thought. This mystical power if activated improperly, by a negative focus, would rain terror down upon us. And that seems to negate the concept of free will, or our ability to say “no thanks.” “I don’t wish to be struck by lightning.”
But for those claiming the extreme version of how we control our own destiny, we are ultimately responsible for everything that happens to us in this lifetime. Absolutely everything.
From stubbing our toes on the corner of the wall in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom, to the traffic accident that left us paralyzed, to that cheating significant other, to the faulty wiring in our home that set it ablaze.
We supposedly own it all.
I bring this up in context. What context? The context of a couple of books I’m reading right now.
If you haven’t read my post Torrent, well, you ought to. 🙂 It’s a good story, and it’s true. My brother and I were almost “kept” by the spirits in the Grand Canyon. As a result of a flash flood.
That was my second of four visits in the Canyon so far. Two decent-length hikes, one brief hike to introduce the Canyon to a past girlfriend of mine, and a helicopter trip from Vegas that landed on the Canyon floor and allowed those on board to hang around for a bit before returning to the glitze.
It is an incredibly spiritual experience to see the Canyon in any capacity. It floods your senses and stops you cold. It’s a glimpse back in time, about 4 billion years back. And because of the age and the differential erosion, one might get the impression that the carving of this masterpiece was incredibly slow. A gentle hand of the elements, skilled with light brushstrokes, pastels of ever shifting light on red granite and sandstone formations.
The Colorado River, the hand holding the brush painting this western horizon, snakes imperceptibly through the bottom of the Canyon. From the Canyon’s rim, that is. You can’t appreciate the size or the magnitude of the force of that river unless you’re standing next to it.
Realization dawns, and it’s apparent that is was not all soft, plodding forces carving out the many inner canyons, slots, and washes. Intermittent torrents of water have flowed through these interlaced gorges every year for centuries. In the Monsoon season.
They carry with them boulders, trees, and brush, torn lose from the surrounding escarpments. Acting like diamond-bladed saws, these inclusions smash their way through the chasms with the same force as a B-52 bombing run. Reshaping the shear walls, drop-offs, precipices and even the gentle washes. Polishing smooth the granite surfaces, leaving them with no hand or footholds should you dare to climb on them.
But back to the books.
If you’ve ever read any of the works of Edward Abbey, you’ll get a sense for the majestic beauty of the desert. You’ll also appreciate how one shouldn’t enter this stark environment without being prepared. It can kill you.
But Abbey’s works are entirely positive. He describes a spiritual experience. One you would like to emulate.
I’m currently reading his book “Beyond the Wall.” But I’ve also enjoyed “Desert Solitaire,” and his classic novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” You can skip his novel if you wish, but his other descriptions of hiking through the desert will take you there. Place you in his shoes. Including the aches and pains our bodies endure when we embark on a test of our physical and mental limits.
His books fill you with awe. You are spellbound.
Recently, I was lent another book. “Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon,” by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers. And I have to say, this book is just as captivating as Abbey’s work. The sort of can’t-look-away-from-that-slow-moving-train-wreck sort of experience.
But it’s definitely the opposite of Abbey’s spiritual experience. The spirits described in this book are literally extracorporeal. The main subjects of this book all perish as the result of the unforeseen cataclysms.
But did these people desire to die in these most tragic and traumatic ways possible?
According to the manifesting school of thought, yes, they did.
Well, I’m beginning my preparation for trip number five into the Canyon. And I really don’t want to fill my subconscious mind with hundreds of images of death and destruction. So maybe I should put this book down, at least until after my adventure is complete, should some subconscious desire to be ground into a million pieces be lurking around in that dimension of my brain.
Do we bring both the Darkness and the Light upon ourselves? Do we have total control over all of the events in our life? Does placing thoughts of limitation, ill-will, despair, and death, bring the furry of the wild forces on this planet down upon us?
With only ourselves to blame?
Photo: On a camping trip many moons ago with my brother. We were up in the Rockies, in May. We had brought summer gear, thinking the weather would be warm as it was in the Midwest. Not so much. We arrived in the middle of a snow storm.
We huddled around the fire the entire night. Sleep escaped us. We could hear the wind whining through the mountains just before it would burst upon us in waves. Hands outstretched above the flames to keep warm, while clinching our eyes tightly shut – the embers and ash blowing in our faces.
The night brings the Darkness. Those forces we can’t see. While the Light shines upon us from the fire, bringing warmth and joy. Both side-by-side, in this image, and metaphorically. Our desires and fears. Malevolent and benevolent. What we covet and what we abjure . . .