Wednesday, September 14, 2005

In the Grand Canyon

September 10, 2005 (Saturday)
4:21 p.m.
Grand Canyon

“You can’t capture the moment with your camera,” Alan said.

I tried. I know I can’t.

I tried to discover the wonders of the Grand Canyon. What I found was myself. And some squirrels and eagles and a big elk.

Alan and I tried to cross the forest in the morning. We tried to look for a short cut to the rim. We did not follow the trail. We got lost.

Then I saw the elk. It was as big as a horse.

“I can’t believe you saw it,” Alan said. “I did not see it.”

I tried to take a picture but the animal ran and got lost behind the trees, behind the curtain of the morning mist.

I took a picture of a squirrel sitting on the ridge. It looked at me. When I pressed the shutter, an eagle flew by. I captured them both in my borrowed camera.

Then I went on my own, with my borrowed life. I entered the 100-year old lodge, the 100-year old Indian house and I followed the Bright Angel trail under the heat of the noonday sun.

I just want to get lost.

I did.

Under the centuries old pine trees I talked to my God. I thanked him for the wonders that I’ve seen.

On the rim of the canyon, while looking into the abyss below, I prayed to my creator.

“I see that you’re being a journalist today,” Alan said before we went on each other’s way earlier.

I only smiled.

I was trying to discover myself, I wanted to say.

The world is so wide, so immense. I just want to get lost.

Faces of people I met in my journey to what I have become appeared before me.

Dapitan. Manila. Bungiao. Zamboanga. Basilan. Vienna. Jeddah. Thailand. Cambodia. Malaysia. Singapore. South Korea. Batanes. And the many others places I have gone to came marching by.

And the people I met in my journey smiled and sat beside me.

I could not recall their names. But they have become part of me. They made me. They live in me.

How many more years will this journey last?

Before death welcomes me to whatever awaits us after this life, will there be a Grand Canyon? Will there be eagles and squirrels and mountains and trails and cold wind to kiss my face?

I remember friends who journeyed to places they learned to love. Most met people who made their journey colorful. Some entered into relationships. Some did it for adventure. Others were swept away by their emotions. Others did it for pleasure.

Many tried to justify the moment. Others just let it pass. Some nurtured it in their hearts and continued to live in illusions.

I have been to places. I have all the opportunities to do what I want. I think about what I could have done, what I could do. But my whole being just holds on to the memories, the promises and the love that are always with me wherever I go.

The Grand Canyon is a retreat. I am not a journalist here looking for a story. I am me looking for myself in the middle of this natural wonder.

Nature shaped this place as a gift to humankind for us to discover ourselves.

Millions of years ago, this land was flat. The Colorado River carved an immense chasm through this arid land. The layers of rock exposed in the canyon walls are snapshots of the earth’s history.

The world is larger and wider here with sunrises, sunsets and storms adding life to the land. The moon and the stars shine brighter here.

The Grand Canyon humbles one soul.

I am just a speck in God’s creation. The grandeur of my dreams is nothing compared to the immensity of what this world, this land, went through millions of years already.

What little can I contribute to this world?

I pray that God will help me be more humble. I pray that I will continue to work in helping others realize that even as we cannot change the face of the earth we can be instruments in changing the lives of others.

I failed to capture the beauty of the Grand Canyon in my borrowed camera. I even failed to describe its grandeur in words.

“I will paint it in my heart,” I told Alan. “I will save it in my mind.”

I will do my best not to fail to record this experience in my borrowed life.

I promised to bring home stories to my friends and my loved ones. I promised that I will let them see what I see and feel what I feel through my stories. I might not be able to fulfill my promise.

My friends and my loved ones were with me when I soared with the eagles over the canyon. They were with me when I discovered the crags on the canyon walls with the squirrels. They were with me running after the elk as big as a horse before it got lost in the morning mist.

My friends and my loved ones are always with me in my journey. I never left them behind. They are always with me.

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