As I Went Out One Morning


Golden light seeps beyond the slits of my closed eyelids waking me up. I’m waking up off the grid somewhere in Nevada at the end of a dusty dirt road. It’s maybe 5am, but I do not know for sure. I have no clock, no watch, no cell phone. Truth be told, I’m not quite sure what day it is. Because when you are camping off the grid ritual is no longer tethered to time like it is on city streets, and daily routine becomes peripheral at best. (It’s wise not to confuse ritual with routine.) 

Out here behavior is curated by the sun and the moon. We live by the beads of sweat that sluice across our brows under the beat of the afternoon sun and the salt specked darkness of a balmy midnight sky.

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There is no coffee to drink this morning, I know this for sure. We used up the last of our ground coffee day before yesterday. And Zack dropped our empty french press on the ground yesterday shattering the glass, which means they’ll be no more morning hot coffee rituals until we return.

So coffee-less and time-less I creep and crawl out of our tent alone to watch the sunrise. Quietly, as to not wake the Man and Dog still peacefully sleeping in the tent, I slide my little orange camp chair into the brightest swath of morning sun I can find; there are many to choose from this morning so I take my time in making this choice.  

I love the way the warm morning sun brightens on my face. It feels so good. There truly is something miraculous in the way the sun shines on wild, open land in the morning. The way the light dances across mountain-scapes, canyon walls, and flat plains. The sun becomes a kind of spiritual experience that instantly melts away care, that brings you to peace with all the good and bad in your life and in the world. Rays of wild early morning light seem to instantly mend any wound the world may have, any wound your spirit carries.

And so I sit here with trust and patience and let the morning light mend what needs mending within me and around me. And for a moment I close my eyes and let my mind flip back in time over the past few days of our trip, all the memories that have brought me to this moment.

My imagination breezes through the petroglyph patterned Great Basin of Nevada, the electric green meadow cribbed in flourishing Evergreen and Aspen Trees, a procession to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona - one of my favorite places on the face of this great Earth. I always sigh in relief when my thoughts lead me to the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

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I open my eyes, tilt my head up, and squint them towards the light. And my mind blows over the memories from the coral pink sand dunes and the goose-neck canyons of Utah.

“We’ve had quite a run out here”. I think to myself. Or maybe I say it aloud, I never can tell.

Finally I let my mind succumb to mirroring the wild, open landscape I am within, to live in the moment.   Just the sound of my breath mingling with the cacophony of birds song, the distant whine of the wind, and the occasional rustle of the soft dirt beneath my wiggling toes.

Eventually Zack and Ellie will get up and our morning rituals will carry on together. Eat a bite. Pack up. Drink a liter of water - a “brain bath” my sister once said to us. And once the car starts I’ll cue up the Dead, Ramble On Rose is always first in line in our rolling speaker box. Jerry Garcia has been a faithful companion this journey, and Ramble On Rose our anthem.
And then just like that we will ride the vibe of the morning sun into a new day, a new dirt road, a new patch of sun, a new set of conditions and circumstances, a new mystery, a new invisible flip book of shared memories.  We have no real plans, but spectacular moments of beauty and mystery and adventure will find us anyway, they always do. And yet, it’s not the amazing moments nor the bright memories that beckon us to come out here to play among the wild things, and however cherished our memories become in the future they are not what keep us going in the present.

Nope. We roll off the beaten pavement and away from civilization with only one motivation between the three of remember we are free.

And we always do, remember.

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Erin CookstonComment