This August, I will be making a journey that has come to represent more to me than perhaps it should. For the first time in my life, I will be going camping alone. Not completely alone. I’m sure I’ll be surrounded by hundreds, if not thousands of other campers. I’m going to the Grand Canyon. But I’m going without my husband, without my children, without my parents, or their snazzy recreational trailer. It’s something others do in their twenties, before they’ve gathered the artifacts of family life: the regular job, the spouse, the children with their constant needs for nourishment, protection, encouragement, guidance and patience. But I am a forty-plus woman, and I am going to borrow a car, and drive to the Canyon, and sit on its edge, and maybe even do some hiking. All by myself. I can barely imagine it.
It has come to represent the heart of my healing, of my learning to nurture myself. Writing that feels so cliché. It’s a response that I can see comes from my cynicism. I certainly don’t mean self-indulgence. I don’t mean finding myself. But that Canyon goes deep, and I need to look into something that deep. It is wide, and I need to feel the awe that is irrepressible when faced with that kind of grandeur, awe that silences even the most jaded cynic.
I hope I’m not putting too much meaning into this journey. I don’t expect a miracle cure. I don’t think I’ll discover the secret to forgiveness on the South Rim. I’m not closing any doors; you never know. But I don’t have great expectations. I think, if nothing else, it’s having four days and three nights where no one asks me for anything. It’s so hard to remember what that is like.
There is a voice inside me. I hear her when I write, when I crack open and bleed on the page. I know it is real. I listen to her sing in my dreams, and I try to remember the melodies when I wake. It is because of her that the duct tape and baling wire that held me to together failed. She knew I needed to get to the heart of the matter, and start to really heal. She showed me my name. She is my guide on the path. I can trust her. But I have not learned how to make her my center. I have only recently discovered that she exists. I’m going to hang out with her on the Rim. Maybe even take a hike with her.