One of the great things about hiking down into the Grand Canyon was how absolutely focused one becomes.
The great dissembler and attention grabber of our age, The InterWeb, is cut off essentially as soon as you descend beneath the Canyon Rim. I suppose one could bring a radio into the Canyon if desired, but I have no idea if there would be any reception and frankly, those that descend to the Canyon floor are not those likely to be concerned with such things.
On the hike - down, across, up - one's attention is 100% consumed by the here and now. Partially, of course, this is due to the fact that one is engaging in an activity that requires all of one's attention. It is not like just walking down the sidewalk at home; a mis-step is a potential risk and could result in serious outcomes. It also due to the fact that when one takes the time to stop, one just drinks in the amazing natural wonder of what is all around one, 360 degrees of amazement.
One is completely lost in the moment. There are no distractions. There is no "breaking news" or text or e-mail notifications that demand immediate attention or 1001 siren calls of interest to divert us. There is only the trail and the beauty and the meal at the end of the evening and the stars at night.
There is focus. There is engagement. There is 100% being in the now, without any distractions to attention or involvement.
Contrast this with the way I go through life normally: I am constantly focused hither and yon of incoming bits of information. I turn from e-mail to text, from text to chat, veering over to news or to something that demands my immediate attention. I am not here; I am not really anywhere. I am merely bouncing from incident to incident, an information and task responder without focus.
I have included the Yamaoka Tesshu quote before; I included here again now as a reminder, mostly to myself. I want to find if the water is hot or cold; I must accept that my focus on nothing else but drinking the water at hand to find out if it is hot or cold.
Nothing like hiking with a weight on your back on a sloped surface to cause you to focus on every step. If you have to bend to accommodate an immoveable object, you immediately feel the difference in your balance. If your foot slides even an inch, your entire body tenses up.ReplyDelete
I can appreciate those thoughts on the immediate 'here and now '.
Anonymous - Exactly. I cannot think of the last time I focused so much on walking in my life, for all of the reasons that you mentioned.Delete
An excellent perspective TB, and 'tasting the water oneself' sounds simply but how many people actually do taste life?ReplyDelete
Not many John. Not enough. We encourage living through the experience of others instead of learning to experience them ourselves.Delete
I was fortunate in that during my month in the canyon, I didn't yet have a cell phone to condition my mind otherwise. My biggest worry was if I had brought enough batteries and film for my camera.ReplyDelete
Ed, I will say that having a cell phone was at least an advantage in the the weight and shot categories: It weighs almost nothing and I can evaluate the picture right there. One does surrender a certain level of quality and focus though.Delete
There are a few times I've found when my consciousness consumes all and there is absolutely no room in your mind other for than what you are doing _RIGHT_ now;ReplyDelete
- lead climbing any adventure route placing gear.
- scuba diving.
For a bushwalk to produce a similar response in someone like you, my goodness - walking the Grand Canyon has just made my bucket list.
KA - I have the experience from time to time in more prosaic activities, such as harp playing or even Iai. It is something more about the mind's attention, I suspect, than specifically an activity.Delete
But by all means, go to The Grand Canyon. It will change your life.
I've not had a chance to comment previously, but I've really enjoyed your accounts of The Grand Canyon. I was there in early October (did not do the hiking you did), my first visit, and I was in awe. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
You are quite welcome Bob! I hope the weather and views were as good for you as they were for us. They were so spectacular, I do not know if I would want to do it again in the fear that it would never be quite as perfect (I say that. Of course I would do it again.)Delete