New Year's Resolutions, Especially For The Recession.
Take Two Looks:
"As beautiful as the rim is, one must hike down into
the inner canyon to be grasped by the spirit and
mystery of this place."
Park Overlook Sign
The Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon, New Year's Eve, 1974
We were only thirty. We had very little money. What we had went to the gas that got us to the rim of the Grand Canyon about 5 in the afternoon on New Year's Eve. We checked with the hotel and realized they wanted our monthly rent for one night's stay. We thought about leaving but that seemed too simple.
My companion, whom I now refer to as my former husband, had a brainstorm. He found a phone book and called down to the ranger station, which he presumed was at the bottom of the canyon. A man named Gary answered. All I could hear was Bob's inviting us to Gary's house for New Year's Eve and asking what we could bring. Our hospitality gift proved to be guacamole and chips because that is what Gina, 8 months pregnant, was craving. I didn't know where we would find an avocado that night but had a feeling we probably would. Indeed, we did and splurged on two to put in our packs for the hike in.
We left before sundown and got to Gary and Gina's place right before midnight. On the walk in, which is almost as easy as being young and free and poor, we met quite a few animal friends but no humans. Clearly, they had bought in the high rent district up above. Big horned sheep. Wild deer. Bunnies, bunnies, bunnies. A crow that seemed determined to keep us on the big path. A bright moon kept us focused as well.
When we arrived, Gary and Gina had dinner ready and had put out more board games than I have ever seen. We played every one, got acquainted, ate, and drank, slept, giggled and sang Auld Lang Sine. Twice. Once for us; another for the baby.
In the morning, we awoke to the climb out, which resembles middle age as much as the walk in resembles youth. Recession and pre-recession thinking also come to mind. The walk out is harder.
Gina prepared what I continue to serve as Grand Canyon pancakes, stacks of thin whole wheat slivers, topped with cottage cheese in layer two and orange marmalade in layer three. She promised they would take us all the way out without hunger. Be sure to add the wheat germ.
Thus, we had nothing to carry out. We had our food already in our bellies. Only two avocados and two bags of chips had come in with us. The lightness was exhilarating.
It became more exhilarating as we climbed out and stumbled across hiking boots, backpacks, sticks, lunches and more, littering the trail all the way up. People clearly could carry a lot more in than they could carry out. People had more than they needed.
What made this the New Year's Eve that all the rest have to best? Partly, it was the board games and the guacamole and the new friends. Mostly, though, it was the lightness. There is a lot we can let go of and still have all we need. There is a lot we can forget or not be able to afford and still have all we need. We can lay our burdens down -- and be greeted with a feast. Unclutter and unrim were my New Year's Resolution that year -- and both last and stick, like Gina's pancakes.
"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit." John 12: 24
Enlightenment, most people think, has to do with gaining something. The opposite is true. Enlightenment has more to do with losing something, especially losing old expectations for new circumstances and new life. We used to live in a time called pre-recession. We now live in a time called recession.
Linda Immune, the Philippine educator, says that the process of education is obtaining enough security to have an adventure. Then the adventure is to restore the security, which security must be abandoned on behalf of more adventure. Grains of wheat understand. Life and love are as much about letting go as they are about hanging on.
Unfortunately, we are habituated to hanging on. Hanging on to what we had last year in our pensions joins hanging on to what we thought was our nation's international status to cause fruitlessness. We don't fruit when we refuse to die. Instead, we get stale. We get rigid. We hold on too long when the very act of letting go would permit us spiritual fruit.
We can be more fruitful. We can let go of what we think is the norm on behalf of a new normal. That new normal is secure adventure and the adventurous security. These mark the genuinely open person, one whom Spirit blesses with wisdom. Less is often more, change is often good. Revitalized expectations, even if they are "downsized," can offer more comfort than upsized expectations. When we let go, we ripen.