A Canyon Walk

Life happens a step at a time.

Walking up a canyon this summer, I reached the top step by step, arduous step by arduous step in the same manner (though faster than) I crossed the five miles of the 14,000-foot saddle of Kilimanjaro so many years ago. I can always make that next step and continue to move. I do not have to think of all the succeeding steps yet to be made. Life and all its tasks are done step by step. Remember that you can always make the next one, the one directly in front of you. Don't worry about any more--they'll arrive in due time.

Still walking up the canyon I think of the wonders of balance as the healthy body moves along a rocky path. Orientations, surfaces, footing all change with each step, with each partial step, and the body automatically adjusts throwing hips left once, right another time; throwing arm up once, out another time, and to the other side of the body at yet another rock; stamping foot in front once and behind again to prevent a fall when the other foot trips or slips. And all this is built in reaction requiring no thought. They call it the autonomic system, a fancy name; but in action, it is an amazing set of reactions designed to keep this awkward, two-legged animal upright. And how quickly age and disease can break this system down.

While walking the canyon, I wonder if I could avoid a rock falling from above, if I would see it in time. I could sit at the bottom of the canyon and watch the ridge diligently for rocks falling in order to avoid them. Maybe I would see one or two a year and be saved from them, maybe less. But I cannot sit and wait for them to fall. I have to move on with life and let them fall where they will--the wildcards of life--the luck, good and bad. I suppose I could remotely monitor the ridge electronically--but if I spend my time watching the ridge, I'll never enjoy the valley I am walking in. So also life when we constantly worry "What if?" instead of just living and let be what might (or might not) happen in its time and place.

Water and man are quite similar in that when they are rushing they are very noisy: a mountain stream and waterfall sure do resemble the "rush" hour in the roar they produce. They both arise from the need to get somewhere else quickly. They are also often abrasive when they move quickly and soothing when they move slowly.

The window where you came from.
Go to My 2002 Musings index.

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