The Grand Canyon

#mindfulness #resilience #selfcare Nov 01, 2021

I lived in Arizona for 5 years. That is where I finished my residency and then I was hired as an Academic Hospitalist at my institution. I loved living in Arizona, and some of my closest friendships were formed there. 

I also remember the very first time that I decided to visit the Grand Canyon. I have always heard about it. I had seen so many pictures beforehand, I could not wait to see it with my own eyes. 

Knowing it would be hot, we tried to get there in the morning. It was already getting warm but not too unbearable. 

When I got there I was completely awestruck

In some ways, it was exactly as I had imagined it; in other ways, it was a thousand percent more majestic. I mean, you really cannot appreciate the depth and vastness of the place unless you get up close and personal

At that time, I tried to walk around as much as I could manage on foot from the South Rim. The colors of the red rock set against the flickering of the sunlight peeking through clouds left a never ending impression on me. 

As I was walking around all the entry points that people were taking photos at, I saw a couple walk out of  the canyon. They had walking poles, huge backpacks and giant empty plastic bottles dangling from their packs.  They were covered in red dirt and were breathing heavily. 

“Did you guys go all the way down?” I asked in disbelief. 

They said, “Yes, we did. We were camping at the very bottom next to the river.”

A river? What? You can camp down there? Of course, I had no clue about any of this. 

Then it hit me.

“How long did it take you to hike out?”

The girl said, “We left at 3 am.”

My jaw dropped. Walking down to the bottom of the canyon was one thing. But actually camping there next to a river? Hiking out at 3 am?

I was blown away. I was so impressed. Then I thought to myself: “That would never be me.”

Well, I married my husband in 2005 and for New Year’s Eve we had friends who wanted to camp at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. So we did. It was glorious. I cannot begin to tell you what a fantastic experience that was. The hike down is so breathtaking, especially as the sun starts to set and you see the dance of all the rays of light fade into the shades of red and then into the darkness. 

The moment I saw the turquoise color of the Colorado River piercing through the red vastness of the canyon, I let out a big squeal. This is before iPhones so I have no personal photos but I promise you that all that beauty is forever pierced in my head. 

Then it was time for us to hike out of the canyon. Waking up really early in the morning to beat the heat and then making it all the way to the top. 

As I was taking my very last steps to get out, a little girl stopped me and asked, "Did you guys go all the way down?”

I smiled and I said, "Yes, we camped down there for two nights."

Then her mother asked, “What time did you start hiking up?”

A full circle moment

Amazing…

Last week something similar happened. 

I did my palliative care training in Boston. I used to run by the Charles River and loved nothing more than watching the early rowers rowing in unison on the water. So graceful and peaceful. So beautiful that I would stop running.  I used to take out my camera (iPhone by then) and capture them just as they would traverse the rays of early sun peeking through the high-rise buildings…

This past season, I had signed up for a fitness challenge in my local gym. Our group beat the other three groups. As a prize, we had a chance to paddle in outrigger canoes. I have never done this before. I was so excited, I cannot tell you how it felt to even get the instructions leading up to the event. I could not believe that would be a life experience for me.

Then we paddled in the ocean for close to 2 hours. 

As we were paddling by my daughters’ sailing club, I saw people taking pictures of us. 

I knew that there was beauty in what we were doing. I knew they were trying to capture the rays of sun that were dividing my crew on our canoe. 

Once again, a full circle moment for me. 

This got me thinking:

Which side of the camera do you want to live?

I mean in life, do you want to be the one taking the picture of what inspires you or be what others are taking a picture of instead?

I know which group I want to be a part of as I signed up to paddle regularly with the outrigger canoeing club.

Why not you?

And,

If not now, then when?

With so much love.

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