I just returned home from vacation and really want to write about some experiences I had but fear the prosaic nature of this pursuit. I promise to do everything in my power to avoid the vague tropes about how important travel is for you and how decompressed you feel getting in touch with the land and out of the city, how you're able to reconnect with yourself and your purpose in life but, well, that is exactly what happened.
My folks planned a trip for the whole family as a retirement gift to themselves after 15 years of owning a small but successful family business. We were whisked away to Sedona, Arizona, a destination wholly different than Chicago in every conceivable way. The landscape was alien: red rocks jutting at unexpected angles across the clear, expansive sky; fuzzy, prickly plants that look as dry as the dirt beneath them; the adobe houses tucked into cliff sides and all a modest one-story, so low to the ground the desert trees around them rendering them nearly invisible to the onlooker.
Partial as I am to seasonality and more temperate weather, I was never really interested in the Southwest, save for some of the design aesthetics that have been seeping into the larger consciousness the last few years: animal skulls, fur tapestries, mosaic tiles. But what I didn't know about Sedona is that it has an actual tangible energy, that it is one of the most mystical places in the world, as it is considered to have vortexes, or confluences of energy, unlike anywhere else in the world. And the energy really is palpable. At least to the believer. And placebo or not, it worked, which is all that really matters.
We stayed at a resort that offered a number of activities and classes, from guided meditation to yoga and spiritual walks around the land. Dan and I took advantage of a lot of these, starting the days off with stretches and poses and following tour guides across the dusty terrain to learn about the energy of the land. In one exercise, we walked through a labyrinth that signified the unexpected turns in life, the meandering paths we take towards our desired outcome. It was a very apt metaphor for life and such a calming notion to consider whenever you're inclined to become upset about something not working out as you'd originally planned.
I also sat in a guided meditation in a teepee, which triggered some anxiety and claustrophobia I get with small spaces. I really had to work at not freaking out and then, slowly, I just let go and allowed things to happen. Everything is actually really perfect when you accept things just as they are, not assigning any label of good or bad to them, but allowing them to just be and cooperating with their just being.
Back in the urban war zone that is Chicago, I am trying to keep these meditative practices forefront in my mind, to remember that all anything is is just a cooperation with nature and none of the seemingly important daily struggles and stresses really amount to anything at all.
And here is a photographic catalog of the journey. First, the majestic red rocks.
And more mountains with rain threatening, a rare treat in Sedona.
And some that were more familiar.
And a cheesy airplane shot for good measure.