It is difficult to feel disconnected from something that is no longer tangible or seen. Lying in my warm bed at night, I didn’t know I could be closer to the stars. They had been hidden from me by the false comfort of a man-made roof. Tonight however, I am closer to the sky than I have ever been, and I am realizing how my society has cut itself off from the earth. For three and a half weeks I have quite literally carried my belongings though the desert on my back. Each step grounds me in this place, pulling me down and making part of it. The red dirt seeps out of my hair, and my skin is scaling to become that of a lizard’s back. As awful as this sounds, I revel in it. I am reconstructing my perception of what it means to be human because I have realized that to be human is to be earth.
My society has boxed itself up into a concrete world where it is easy to become distracted by oozits and what’s its, trinkets and things with screens. In this world, water flows magically from the sink, and food is at most only a short drive away. We have slowly tricked ourselves into captivity, and this caged life does not serve us well. I myself admit to having done this; slipped between the comfy cushions of an armchair relationship with the remainder of the world. This earth however, is not a comfy place. It is a place full of sharp edges and hard rocks. Armchair perceptions and armchair ethics do not belong here. It is time for us to reach out and dissolve the disconnect with the land. There is no possible way to know the intricacies of the planet if one does not immerse herself within it. She must know what it is to squeeze mud through her fingers, see a sweet red cactus blossom with her eyes, and believer every moment with her heart.
Since I have entered on this journey, I have been saturated by the beauties and majesties, secrets and threats that the canyon country holds. I have been abraded by the invasive tamarisk as it holds tightly to the ground it has stolen from the once thriving willows and cottonwoods. I have witnessed a plump and luminous full mood rise opposite a blazing sunrise as the wind tore through my hair on a slickrock terrace. I have watched OHVs tear over the land just minutes away from the scarcely remaining habitat of an endangered cactus. I have become invested in this place, and it has gifted me with curiosity to know more about the land of my home.
It is time for us to stand up from our armchairs, break the locks on our cages and break down the walls that bar us from this planet that sustains us. We are currently on a boom and bust path that teaches us that the earth is mo more than resources and possessions. If we do not remove ourselves from this collision course with morbid overuse, we will dam every river, extract every deposit and be left with nothing to give our children. We are the creatures who evolved with the hands and minds to steward this place. We owe to it the respect and freedom to thrive. We must nurture this home we have been given as it provides for us. I have allowed the earth to pull me down and saturate my body and spirit in sweat and red dirt and clean, clean air. I now recognize the gentle care it has given me. I have spread my roots, connected with the ground and come to love it as part of myself. So here I lay beneath the night with no roof to bar me from the sky. I can truly see the twinkle of stars for the first time as the earth cradles me in safety from below.