Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sacred Places

I got back to the bay area just the other day and I’ve been getting up before noon – way before noon! – and going to bed at a decent hour. I usually find myself going out pretty much every night here. I have enough friends that bartend or are playing a show or have some sort of event going on that usually I find myself with the looming sensation of missing out if I dare stay in.

This time it’s different though. I’m just plain exhausted. I’m not going out. I’m keeping myself as far away from intoxication as I can, and I’m not even feeling like I’m missing out. Maybe Its because I’m so focused on writing, and we’re rehearsing new songs for a couple hours every day. That’s probably it, though it could be that I’ve found that the meaningful things in life don’t tend to be found in bars and nightclubs and hazy city streets and dark hours of morning… not to say I don’t appreciate and enjoy those to the fullest.

Visiting my brother was incredible. I really cleared my head during our hikes through the desert and trips down the Colorado River. In a flowing stream of conversation, he and I will discuss politics and religion, geology and humanity, our lives and fears and upbringing, our friends, our insecurities, how everything came about, how everything will be destroyed... We generally come to the conclusion that we are very lucky to be afforded the time and leisure for such thoughts.

One of our conversations kept coming back to me throughout the trip. He was talking about career goals and said to me that as the foundations of the planet began to give under the weight of humanity, as the climate changes and we deplete our resources, as we start taking on refugees from these things, he wants to make sure that all the breathtaking moments of the earth’s landscape are protected because they are key in holding us together as civilizations, they are secularly sacred, and if we cant agree on much, we can certainly agree on their beauty. This concept was so vivid to me as we watched elderly American folks climbing the hill along side a busload of young French tourists to see the Delicate Arch – the incredible rock on the Utah license plate. It was obvious when we drove a few hours to see American Indian cliff dwellings from the 1200s in western Colorado.

Of course, I felt it more than ever when I caught the Grand Canyon on the way back home. It seemed like everyone in the world came together there.

…and it was really really fucking big. That’s all I can say, words do nothing to describe it. And I couldn’t take a decent picture of the thing.

It was also very strange to visit it alone. I walked a couple trails into the canyon amongst families and young couples, tour groups and packs of tourist-adorned mules, and I moved quickly past without the weight of conversation or companionship slowing me down.

It wasn’t lonely though. It was really enjoyable, and while I watched the sun set and waited for some sort of epiphany – as such a time and place calls for epiphanies – I realized that the fact that I was able to see the place alone, on a whim, because I felt like it, was a compliment to the life I lead. Yet another…

I slept that night beside a dirt road in the National Forest Service land just outside of the National Park (You can usually legally camp for free in National Forest Service land). I had no need for my tent and the stars were as sharp and poignant as they can be, the Milky Way more of a cloudy expanse than ever. Eventually my eyes fell closed and I slept until the sun started to rise. Upon returning to the Canyon to charge my phone in a spare outlet in the lodge, I found the lookout points that were bursting with RVs and tourists the previous afternoon completely void of activity. I realized my chance to witness the place in a state of near-serenity and hiked for a few miles, until the crowds of sunscreen soaked families and stampedes with shiny new hiking boots began to clog up the trails again.

I charged my phone, began towards LA, realized I was falling asleep behind the wheel, pulled off and slept in the backseat of my car in the woods for 45 minutes and drove for eight strait hours to my buddy Matt’s apartment in Hollywood, where I played him a few songs as he’ll most likely be producing our next record, saw some good friends and spent the night, waking up to drive back to the Bay Area with Will the next morning. And now I speculate the source of my exhaustion, though I am quite certain that I need a haircut.