A visit to North America - Soul stirring experience
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
I love to travel. Sometimes I wish I was as free as a bird and could go anywhere, anytime.
A machine manufactured bird recently flew me to America's southwest desert. Our 20 day trip started at Las Vegas – Or Sin City, some call it.
I must confess: I never wanted to visit the city. But it’s also the perfect gateway to beautiful desert landscapes.
So here I was in Vegas..... It’s surreal to see the desert from above. At the airport, I had no doubts: we were in Las Vegas – as there were several gaming machines to play around.
The Las Vegas strip, which is just a 4.2 mile stretch
in the desert, is quite a spectacle at night. It is
home to many indoor delights like 5-star dining, electric nightlife and world-class gambling.
It is fun and festive everywhere. People acted happy and cheerful – A HAPPY PLACE TO BE...Or so I thought.
When the sun came out everything changed. The buildings were soulless and the cracks behind the carefully constructed casinos began to reveal themselves. You can't ignore the invisible homeless, soulless bottle service billionaires and the grimace of every local you see.
The fakeness of the world hit me hard on the face.
After spending a day in Las Vegas, we headed towards – Grand Canyon. The five-hour drive was filled with breathtaking views of arid desert, ancient Joshua tree forest and small kitschy towns that kind of look like they’re out of an old western film. As we drew near to Grand Canyon the scenery changed to fields lined with acres of pine trees.
Grand Canyon itself, is magical- nature's wonder.
I think it’s vital I recite the statistics – the canyon
is 1.6 km deep, nearly 29 km across at its widest
point and 433 km long.
It is ancient much beyond human comprehension. For instance, some of the rocks making the walls were formed long before dinosaurs ever roamed the earth, around a few billions years older. Each line of rock, each change of color, represents millions of years. In short, the history of the world is written here. Furthermore, this fascinating structure is carved by Colarado river and it continues to do so..
Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, I felt like a tiny part of a massive universe swirling around me. In the vastness, all my doubts, fears, troubles, and sadness seemed insignificant, leaving me cleansed and open.
There is a kind of liberation in smallness. For a brief moment it was just me on the canyon.
If that sound mystic to you, it should, because the canyon are the sacred grounds for many Native American tribes.
Interestingly, the first European explorer of the Grand Canyon Joseph Christmas Ives did not experience, what brings 5 million people each year to canyon. In his Report upon the Colorado River of the West; Explored in 1857 and 1858 (Washington: GPO, 1861), he writes " The region . . . is, of course, altogether valueless…after entering it, there is nothing to do but leave. Ours has been the first and the last party of whites to visit this profitless locality. It seems intended by nature that the Colorado River, along the greater portion of its lonely and majestic way, shall be unvisited and undisturbed.”
The word valueless makes me think what is the worth of a place? Yes, in economic terms, it doesn’t have much value. You can’t grow anything in its desert soil. You can’t pasture cattle or even goats. But is that all?
Like Grand Canyon which is sacred to Navajo people, Antelope Canyon is also considered waters and winds home. But unlike the Grand Canyon the Navajo elders advise against going inside the cave. " The place affects you, our elders believe that spiritually, you can get caught up in whirlwind. But this belief also ensured that that the Canyons are protected from human intervention. Look at its conditions now, the tourism has a huge impact on the canyon. ” says one native tour guide.
Humans in the past believed that these landscapes have existed for a millennia and have an intrinsic value. The customs and traditions which evolved with the environment ensured their protection. They knew that they are just a speck in the grand scheme of things and this belief makes you humble, kinder, generous and giving.
But todays human feels godlike. And then your life revolves around destruction, greed, lust, obstacles and cycles of suffering. This I experienced in Las Vegas. It has the reputation of being one of the most superficial places on the planet.
But I believe the Valley has been called to do this, to help transform the superficial into something of depth and something of connection.