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hey, it’s just garbage…

July 17, 2014

It was early on in April of ‘05 and I was sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon.

I’m hanging off the edge of an abutment, looking down through my dangling feet at the kilometre of empty space beneath, and it has taken my eyes/brain about ten minutes to come to terms with what I was trying to comprehend.

My eyes had had no previous experience with such things, and so my brain thought that I was somehow lying to it. (The canyon couldn’t possible be true!) Vertigo washed up on me like waves on the beach. As you can imagine, there are no words for such places. The trees looked like a vibrant green carpet against a stunning backdrop of red and pink sandstone. From such distances I initially mistook them for patches of grass on the steep canyon slopes. Through my binoculars I followed ravens as they floated endlessly motionless on convection currents. The Colorado River is a far-away pencil line through a 3-D viewfinder. I am puny before such works of God.

The park pamphlet tells me it is fifteen kilometres to the other side and almost two kilometres to the canyon floor. It has taken almost fifteen million years to produce such a wonder. (I was there when the pamphlet was still allowed to tell me that the canyon had been carved out over millions of years. After Bush Jr. and biblical literalism came to Washington, the park was forced to remove the canyon’s age from the information packet.)

You have to sit and stare and look for twenty minutes or more before the canyon stops looking like a flat calendar picture and the true depth and its sheer immensity starts to become apparent. The eyes have not seen such things. They do not know how to register. 

Anyway, as I sat there, a young married couple pulled up in their pick-up truck and they get out and come over to the edge and they also stare. Their words too are of awe and wonder. They are about ten metres from me and I see that they are drinking cans of soda-pop and smoking cigarettes. When they are finished with their drinks they laughingly toss the cans over the edge and in fascination, try to watch the cans fall away. But they are disappointed when the cans soon disappear into the vastness, and so, they rub out their cigarette butts under the heals of their boots, and turn and climb back into their truck and drive away.

I’ve kicked myself ever since for having been so stunned that I was incapable of walking up and kicking them both in the crotch. Maybe even shove them over as well.

That, at least, would have been interesting to watch.

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