When traveling to Southern Utah for the first time, it is fair to ask, if the red rocks were cut would they bleed. And when traveling to Utah’s desert for the second or third time, it is fair to assume that they do, that the blood of the rocks gives life to the country. And then after having made enough pilgrimages to the slick rock to warrant sufficient separation from society’s oughts and shoulds, look again for the novice you once were, who asked if sandstone bleeds. Pull out your pocketknife, open the blade, and run it across your burnished arm. If you draw wet sand that dries quickly, then you will know you have become part of the desert. Not until then can you claim ownership. ~Terry Tempest Williams
As much as I enjoy summer in the city, I am tired of the swelter, the humidity making me feel constantly sticky. Even the early mornings can feel oppressive. How much I would love to be in a dry city, a dry desert city where one can hear the water escaping through the skin’s pores.
Heat is more tolerable, more enjoyable without liquid air. Give me Phoenix, Flagstaff, Moab most of all. Moab, a land flayed of flesh exposing the bones of the earth, bones stained by blood, Earth’s blood, harsh rock, soft sand…red…red…red! I need to feel red rock beneath my bare feet, see red rock as far as they eye can touch, hear the stark silence of the brutal landscape, feel sun piercing my flesh.
Give me the liberty of an open desert where death lurks around every corner, where eternity awaits at every precipice with a step into the sky. Liberty? Yes! Liberty from safety. Liberty from the tyranny of the mundane, the tyranny of petty concerns. I long for the red land where moistures is a stranger.
Embrace the solitude of the red desert. Allow the mind to turn inward and dwell in the horror of the self, internal terra incognita, a black hole lined with lurking thoughts, thoughts awaiting an opening to pounce and either drive a soul mad with sharp thoughts, razors slicing away vanity, shaving off the delusions we cultivate so we can live with ourselves day after day after day. Or, a venue for discovery of our core selves.
If we are brave enough to venture into the unknown depths of our minds, strong enough to survive the struggle, we can find and open the doorway to understanding our personal reality. I long to sit and melt into the redrock, blood rock, and drift into the eternity of my mind.