Finding the Grand
(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda)
I am currently on an extended-family vacation, which is a rare treat. We are scattered all over the country, and this is the second time we've gathered to vacation together. The fact that my father thought to do this for all of us—and is doing it again—is pretty amazing. We're very fortunate that we have the chance(s) to get together this way.
For me, of course, being a fairly solitary person who is sadly used to not seeing my family very often, a whole week with so many other people is a mixed blessing. I love it. I really do! But it's an adjustment, for sure, to adjust to the hubbub and the excitement and help my kids adjust and all of that. Stress is stress, even when it's good stress! Especially if you are normally sort of a hermit, like I am.
All of this is preamble to this: We are vacationing in Arizona, and on Sunday we all went to the Grand Canyon. Before we went, various people had assured me that "You just can't imagine until you've been there" and "pictures really just do not do it justice." So I was prepared to be wowed, yes. And I was not disappointed—grand? Yes. Huge? Also yes. Majestic, awe-inspiring, amazing? None of that was a surprise. But it's just… so… LARGE. It goes on and on and on and no matter how much I looked at it, I just couldn't reconcile all of those sheer cliffs with the tiny river we could see way down at the bottom.
It would've been a spectacular experience no matter what, walking along such a gigantic piece of proof that the world is capable of making strange and wonderful things wholly without human intervention. But viewing it along with my husband and children and parents and siblings and their kids made it even better. There was the scenery and the company together, sort of like sharing a juicy secret with the people you like best. Then there was also how every conversation, every exchange seemed more important, somehow, when set on such a breathtaking backdrop.
Many of our group were busy taking pictures, too. My husband spent the day muttering at his various cameras and lenses, trying to get the perfect shot that would capture what lay in front of us.
I took very few pictures. Mostly I looked, and listened, and just tried to drink it all in. It's easy—too easy—in our daily hustle and bustle to get wrapped up in our own little worlds. To me, looking out over the Grand Canyon was a swift reminder that anything that feels huge to me is, by definition, not all that big in the grand scheme of things. I don't believe you could look at all those miles of rocks, worn smooth by a force almost unimaginable, and still be convinced that your worries about work or school or whether you have time to stop at the store later are really what life is about. (And as if that wasn't enough, we were also lucky enough to see the solar eclipse while we were there. It was a whole day of natural wonders!)
At the same time, being there with my family made me tune in to the little things. The moment when my daughter took my little nephew's hand, or when my niece ran up to tickle me and skipped away laughing. Rather than feeling insignificant, those moments somehow felt bigger. What mattered came into focus: the preciousness of that time together, how quickly our kids are growing up, how lucky we were to be seeing all of these things together in spite of normally being so far away from each other.
I wish I knew how to preserve those times when what's most important seems so clear. How do I make myself a metaphorical Grand Canyon I can take home and refer to when life seems overwhelming? Because I think that would be epic.
Where or when have you felt like the world just somehow made more sense? How do you hang on to that feeling?
(There's lots more Mir here)