The Humbling Canyon

April 6, 2011
By c.kaiden BRONZE, Media, Pennsylvania
c.kaiden BRONZE, Media, Pennsylvania
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

As I meandered down the sidewalk on State Street in Media, I began to As I meandered down the sidewalk downtown, I began to notice the details of my surroundings. The people hurrying by seemed overwhelmed and stressed with problems unknown to me. On a Sunday afternoon, it was a mystery how so many people could possibly have situations to handle that positively could not wait. Besides the pace at which they all walked, I noticed that most of the people around me opted to look down at the patched cement sidewalk instead of up at the cloudless sky. Just as I turned the corner, I spotted an empty bus stop adorned with an ad for Celebrex, a popular arthritis medicine. Briefly glancing at it, I noticed that the advertisement depicted a man and a girl, who I assumed to be his daughter, sitting together on a log.

A rush of memories filled my head as I soared back in time, remembering the day I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Two years before, my brother and Dad had simultaneously called to book one of the two precious four-bed cabins available for the day we were planning to trek down to Phantom Ranch. The lines opened officially at nine o’clock AM, and my father successfully booked a cabin at exactly 9:04 AM. From that day on, my family and I looked forward to the day we would hike the Grand Canyon. We were forced to do wall sits almost every day to build up our strength for the eight-mile descent followed by the ten-mile ascent. Some people took mules down to the bottom of the canyon, while others attempted to get down and back in the same day. My family and I chose the classic climb: trudge down one day, rest at Phantom Ranch at the bottom, and mount the trails to the rim the following day. Our actual trip took place exactly two years after the date we booked our cabin; it was well worth the wait.

Exhausted from the day’s exertion, I went outside the dainty cabin and plopped down on an old log, polished by many hikers before me. My mom and brother were inside the cabin, drowsily packing a bag for the hike out, but my dad emerged, and, in one motion, he climbed over my resting place and expertly seated himself next to me. The Colorado River gushed by us; it surged over rocks and fallen branches with seemingly endless power. Gazing up at the immense cliffs that formed the canyon, I could scarcely grasp the concept that this river, this body of water before me, had gradually carved out the Grand Canyon. From inside the clutches of the rust-colored rocks, I deemed the word “grand” somewhat of an understatement. A more appropriate name would be the Humbling Canyon, for its depth inspires awe in all humans.

With all the time that I had been inspecting the details of my surroundings, I had yet to glance at the sky; as I stared up, the number of stars in the night sky was striking, and each one shined fiercely. In usual fashion, I attempted to think of something to wish for, and surprised myself when nothing came to mind. Everything that I could ever desire was in front of me; every want or craving had disappeared. I yearned for nothing. A feeling of pure shalom, perfect peace and harmony, engulfed me. The Perfection that we as people ever strive for had been achieved in the most natural state of being. Some would point out the flaws in the scene—the log was rotting on one end, brush obscured the view of the river on one side, and the observers, my father and I, were dressed in worn-out t-shirts and shorts. This state of shalom, where everything was right and perfect and beautiful, did in some ways contain flaws, but, as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Realizing that I was about to walk straight into a man bustling by, I quickly recovered myself and dodged him just in time. Wrinkles were etched deeply into his forehead, and where one would expect laugh lines, there were none. This man wore an expression of constant disappointment and grief, and to this day, I wonder why. After hastily muttering, “Sorry,” I turned around and called, “have a nice day!” He flashed an expression of brief surprise, followed by a one of gratitude. The man was a stranger to me, yet I felt an underlying connection as he walked away, and I am convinced to this day that his pace had slowed down.

The author's comments:
My English teacher, Mrs. Bury, assigned my class a composition about a flashback. After considering my options, I decided to write about a flashback that I had truly experienced. In this short piece, I not only attempted to give a brief description of the Grand Canyon, but also to show the connection between two family members that is strengthened in a such a special place.

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