Two weeks ago, my brain lurched in an unexpected direction. It felt a little like the ground opened up before me. It’s a scary thing to happen, because I found out that there are things beyond my control.
Meditating afterward, I instinctively felt that there were two directions I could take: to retreat to the safety of familiar places or to open my mind as much as I could. A couple of days later, I found myself on the tundra, where there is nothing but openness and space, and no place to hide
The Ute Trail is an old Indian trail that parallels Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, starting at an elevation of more than 11,000 feet. For the first time in a month, the skies weren’t white and pale from the fires. It was like seeing an old friend again: the blue Colorado sky, so deep the color was a substance in itself, one that enfolded this high alpine bowl.
This is a land of rocks, barely covered by a thin carpet of alpine grass and a few flowers. The granite emerges everywhere, piled up high in a huge formation called Tombstones, or scattered across the tundra in strange shapes and colors—pink, grey, white—gleaming on the tundra grass, framing the mountains all around.
To the east is the line of mountains that form Glacier Gorge, ending with Longs Peak, with its characteristic gray metal rock cap, bereft of snow (left). To the west is another line of mountains, the Never Summer Range.
Below is the dark, forested canyon that is empty of trails and therefore humans—to me a mysterious place that offers solace, the possibility of other worlds beyond human entanglements and beyond my entangled mind.
And in between is emptiness and space, unbounded, and so I start to breathe again.