"Everywhere he looked, he could see the most vibrant world of life that had no need of him...that would not think for a moment of his vanishing...have no memory of him...would go on without him. He began to fear his imminent death, not because he would die but because he sensed that he had never really lived as he wished. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan.
After a bout of hike-induced heatstroke, we traded saguaros and Pleasant Lake for pinion-juniper and higher ground. A couple hours of Interstate frenzy landed us an exquisite boondock amongst magical healing vortices and Red Rocks, a wise investment that paid dividends of cooler temps and Red Rock trails. This is exactly why we are the ultimate fickle Rv'ers who travel loose and free from reservations and ill-timed destinations, so we can elude the ravages of heat, cold, smoke and, occasionally, days on end of dreary clouds and rain.
Near the bottom of a second Hop Nosh IPA—the self-prescribed dose for hushing superfluous brain noise and waxing philosophical—my mind surrenders to “the buzz" and my body to a wedgie-inducing, five-dollar Walmart camp chair. Wedgie aside, what better time and place to ponder the Universe, awaiting pinpoints of light from a million molten suns?
Bobbie finishes off an EXTREME Sudoku in waning desert light. The sky fades from orange to pink to violet to blue to black, only to be reignited by a humongous super moon, bright enough to cast our slumped shadows. The sun fights back with a final few brushstrokes of scarlet on wisps of clouds, then gently slips toward tomorrow somewhere far, far away.
A sudden waterfall of cold air floods down from the Mogollon, and with it a raw chill that begets hooded sweatshirts and crossed arms. Bizarre. Even as daytime temperatures break record highs, nights still plunge to 40’s. A reminder that, even in the Arizona desert, it’s still winter.
Light from the super moon drowns all but the brightest stars. Bobbie and I cross postulate the probability of life in the vast “out there,” collectively wondering if "they" are more advanced or primitive than earth? Do they have cars and skyscrapers? Are they out-procreating their planet’s ability to sustain them like we are? If so, at what point does rampant greed cause a breakdown in social order? And, do they know we're here?
In daylight it's canyons and mountains and seas that tickles our “muse.” But nighttime belongs to stars and black holes and the universe at large. My brain aches with concepts like “infinity.” Imagine, time and distance with neither beginning nor end...
You know, I say (or maybe it was the Hop Nosh talking), We are sooo irrelevant. Eventually our sun will burn out or blow up and it won’t make a diddly damn.
Yeah, Bobbie sighs, Kinda like when we grow old and die…how fast we become irrelevant.
I feel irrelevant NOW, I add, gazing to the ends of our galaxy.
After putting ours lives in proper perspective, we discuss the seemingly inverse relationship between age and relevance. Arizona—the state where I grew up, the landscape where most of my big life-dreams spawned—is now a purgatory for retired snowbird geezers. They come for "the weather" and play golf till they die. That I feel the urge to take up golf lately is both interesting and alarming.
|A sleeping Geezer...|
I have a reoccurring nightmare, the disappointment of my future descendants after researching Ancestry Dot Com only to find nothing of significance. This prompts me to Google my name, Mark Everett Johnson. Who knows? Maybe they heard about my fifth-grade starring role as Joseph in the Christmas play, or my improbable interception of a tipped pass on Orangedale Elementary’s flag football team. Perhaps Google knows that I pen a silly blog or a column for the Ouray County Plaindealer…instead of finishing the novel I was so certain would be made into a movie.
|Another sleeping Geezer...|
Disappointed in my seeming irrelevance, I do a last click on “images” for Mark Everett Johnson and pour over thousands of unfamiliar faces of namesakes and/or people related to, or having something to do with, said M. E. Johnsons. There, on the very first of endless pages, fifth row from the top, is a photo of my Mom, Hilda Mable Johnson, gushing a big smile from the hood of a ’56 Chevy. Alas, she upstages me, even in death. If only the IRS would count me so irrelevant as Google, perhaps I could better deal with my apparent anonymity.
Now relax...let your mind slip into the Vortex and come hike with us through Arizona's beautiful Red Rock country...
Mark and Bobbie, On the road to irrelevance.