The Rockies- two notes from two days….
We made it up to Monarch Pass, on the continental divide. It still took us over 3 hours of hard work. I was esctatic to be there. It was such an accomplishment. I had tears of joy. There was a family there when we pulled up. The dog wanted to get out and romp. The husband spanked the dog to make him quiet. The child went running with his arms out, but was called back into the car. The husband and wife took a look, got back in the car, and sped away.
Why do people rush from place to place? Sitting on the divide I had an idea. Maybe people rush from place to place because they are looking for something. What are they looking for? A feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. These are the people who drive to the mountains in their truck with a little ATV in the bed, and who then drive the ATV up and down the roads. They look bored.
They want what I have, that feeling. But they don’t know it and they go to bed vaguely unsatisfied. But why should they feel unsatisfied? They can get so many places faster in their little cars, they just push the accelerator down. How silly to cycle. Why work so hard? They can rush up and down these hills and see everything in an hour. It takes a cyclist a day to see the same thing.
But is it the same thing? Do they see the deer watching 100 feet in the woods? Do they nod to the watching horses and have the horses nod back? Do they hear the chipmunk calling his warning and diving for his burrow? Do they even notice the wild rasberries, let alone stop to eat them? Do they make friends with local dogs that tag along for awhile? Are they forced through exertion to inhale deep draughts of the pine scented 10,000 foot air? Do they hear the hidden creek talking 50 feet off the road and stop to soak their feet?
When they rush by on the dirt roads we pull over and wait. We hear them coming from a quarter mile away. They rush past in clouds of dust and exhaust fumes, their engine and suspension noises overwhelming the forests melody. Their heads are helmeted. Often they travel in groups of two or three, the ones behind ridding in dust. We wave to each other. I know they feel pity for me because I am so slow and they will get their first. I feel like I am waving to a different species.
Walking through Denver was a sharp contrast to the last 13 days spent camping and cycling through the steep and high passes in the Rockies.
I did see some public rental bikes. Unlike Amsterdam, you had to register, pay a $6 registration fee, then rent by the hour. The bikes were well kept.
The pedestrian mall in Denver does not allow cars. It is for walking. However, there are two enormous buses that run up and down it for people who don’t want to walk. They charge for the bikes but the buses are free. Why not have bikes for use in the pedestrian walkway for those who don’t want to walk? And if you can’t walk or ride a bike, maybe the pedestrian walkway is not for you!
On the bus ride to Denver I noted the popularity of small ATV’s. They are transported behind PU trucks in trailers. Maybe some are used to haul killed deer out of the mountains, but many are super fancy. The irony of driving around in a mini car in the lovely quiet forest amuses and frightens me both.
Beyond the obvious irony is this deeper irony: Animals are strong. Watch a deer effortlessly bound over a fence, or a chipmunk streak for it’s burrow. Animals enjoy using their strengths, their bodies. The bodies of all creatures, including ours, are meant to be used, to be stressed. Stress is the way our bodies deepen their capacities.
Yet there is another, more subtle shift that happens when we stress our bodies. We remember and feel that we too are creatures and that we live and die like all other lifeforms. From this perspective it is easy to have compassion for and to connect with all life, and to know ourselves without the shells of our technologies. How do overweight people driving around in dusty groups of mini cars with helmets on find this?
Knowing your creature is knowing that death is always stalking you and will one day get you. Knowing your creature is staying tuned to your senses, physical and intuitive. Knowing your creature is honoring the strength of the life force that flows through all living beings and embracing yours.