Monday, December 8, 2008


Yesterday I was freezing on the T platform in Wollaston, but less than 48 hours before that I had been on the Third Mesa on the Hopi reservation in Arizona, talking in a low voice to a Hopi who was dressing an elk he had shot. We're back, and I wasn't prepared for the jolt because I never saw it coming.

One minute you're driving a road on a mesa, flat as the ocean with the horizon 360 degrees around you. Then you're reflectively ducking, always looking up scared something was going to fall on your head, it's so claustrophobic here. I used to think I couldn't live without the ocean. But I learned that it's the open I like. It's the space I like. I want to be able to see them coming.

One minute we're shifting from foot to foot in the shadow of the Rain God butte in Monument Valley, the sand crunching underfoot, or picking our way along an edge in Canyon de Challey, our footsteps knocking on time, our ears hearing the universal sound, and the next I want to stick cotton in my ears to block out the unrelenting scream of a CNN reporter.

Time and space. It's there. It's connected, but we don't notice it because our planet is too little. But if you listen to the rocks, they will tell you not to hurry. (Time and space are connected because it takes time to move through space. It takes time to step from here to there, it takes time to fly to the edge of the universe.) The rocks didn't hurry and look at what they accomplished. The Indians seem to understand this, the ones who are still trying to maintain their culture. Imagine living out there all your life, and by life I mean the sum total of all the people who lived before you, learning and passing their wisdom to generation after generation.

It's so quiet out there. And everything is so subtle, hidden, but like the trickster coyote it's concealed right there in front of you. Words don't work there. Everything speaks a different language: the land, the people.

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