"Those who are truly decrepit, living corpses, so to speak, are the middle-aged, middle-class men and women who are stuck in comfortable grooves and imagine that the status quo will last forever or else are so frightened it won’t that they have retreated into mental bomb shelters to wait it out."
Henry Miller, reflecting on the art of living in 1939.
Good ole Henry had his mental and physical shit together well into his 80s. From his writings on The Joy of Turning 80, which includes a treatise on The Joy of Urination, Miller blends irreverence with philosophy that bears repeating...
|Bobbie drops into "Spooky"|
“If you can fall in love again and again… if you can forgive as well as forget, if you can keep from growing sour, surly, bitter and cynical… you’ve got it half licked.” Miller
We hoped for more of the same skinny shimmy experience as Peekaboo. We weren't disappointed.
"If at eighty you’re not a cripple or an invalid, if you have your health, if you still enjoy a good walk, a good meal (with all the trimmings), if you can sleep without first taking a pill, if birds and flowers, mountains and sea still inspire you, you are a most fortunate individual and you should get down on your knees morning and night and thank the good Lord for his savin’ and keepin’ power. " Miller
To "mountains and sea" I would add, Utah's surreal canyons. Few places are more capable inspiration than Utah's bottom half. It's one ginormous magical Wonderland....
"The problem...is how to keep free, how to do only what one wants to do." Miller
Spooky began to narrow. It wasn't long till backpacks came off in order to slip through its slender, red coffin confines. All is well, until...
Until we happened upon a "narrow," chock full of choke-stones. I tried crawling over, under, and around the impasse, looking for passage...and not without a good deal of trepidation. A massive tumble of boulders, delicately wedged against each other and Spooky's slot canyon walls, suspended, waiting to crush the life out of some day-hiker. In places like this, I tend to wonder, what if an earthquake happened while I'm under such massive boulders?
Thinking we might need the rope again I didn't want to tie it off. I ended up threading it around a "touch-point" between two boulders. After success at lowering myself down it was Bobbie's turn. About then a couple of young guys going the opposite direction showed up. I tossed my camera to one of them so he could recorded the moment... over Bobbie's protests.
Using our rope for assistance, the guys scrambled up and disappeared. I was about to pull the rope down when a chatty Chinese couple peeked through the maze of boulders, looking for a way down. I expressed to the lady that she could use our rope and that I would help "shoulder" her down. She wasn't too sure about it. Though smaller, she was heavier than Bobbie, and, well, let's just say that in order to not drop her my hands found some rather "intimate" holds.
I helped her husband down, trying not to molest him like I did his wife. They expressed considerable gratitude and politely waved us on, waiting for us to continue so we could have the canyon to ourselves again. It was a refreshing gesture, especially after having had a couple loud guys ride our asses in Peekaboo. We finally reached a place wide enough to let them pass. I think some cultures have more "respect" for others; something fast becoming a lost tradition in America.
I enjoyed how Miller put the idea into words:
"One can fight evil, but against stupidity one is helpless… I have accepted the fact, hard as it may be, that human beings are inclined to behave in ways that would make animals blush. The ironic (and) tragic thing is that we often behave in ignoble fashion from what we consider the highest motives. The animal makes no excuse for killing his prey (while) human(s) invoke God’s blessing when massacring his fellow man." Miller
|No Earthquake Zone|
"...and perhaps still are," Indeed. Later, reading myself to sleep with Miller, I wondered at the "idiocy" of some of our outdoor antics, particularly given our age and that we often go off half-cocked. Hey, at least I carry a rope...though any real mountaineer will tell you that, in curious ignorant hands, all a rope does is get novices in deeper "shit." Thinking back, I had to admit that we validated that point of view several times.
"Picasso once said: 'One starts to get young at the age of sixty, and then it’s too late.' It was only in my forties that I really began to feel young. By then I was ready for it...by this time I had lost many illusions, but fortunately not my enthusiasm, nor the joy of living, nor my unquenchable curiosity." Miller
|Overhead debris, including rocks, demonstrates how deep the water level gets during flash floods, velocity that would rip you to shreds...|
"Perhaps it is curiosity — about anything and everything — that made me the writer I am. It has never left me…
With this attribute goes another which I prize above everything else, and that is the sense of wonder. No matter how restricted my world may become, I cannot imagine it leaving me void of wonder. In a sense, I suppose it might be called my religion." Miller
Long ago I forsook the hand-me-down "religion" of my parents; it just wasn't "a fit." I couldn't reconcile its over-regulated, servitude lifestyle...narrow as the very slot canyons we are so fond of squeezing through. I grew weary of Hell's fire licking at my adolescent feet—the ultimate threat that tries, yet fails so miserably, to hold the "salvation army" in step. No.
Today, as with Miller, Wonder is my religion. It feels more honest, resonates, and helps keep one's ego in proper perspective. We are small, Wonder is big...and, unlike "religion," no one dies from idealogical disagreements regarding the Wonder of slot canyons.
Thanks for allowing me to flaunt my "religion."
Mark and Bobbie...
That's me in the corner
That's me in the spot light
Losing my religion...