OPINION – I stepped out on the edge the other day.
It had been awhile, but it was something I wanted, no, needed, to do.
After 18 months in Mexico, I returned to a country that is difficult to recognize.
I’m not sure if it’s a reflection of the economy, this vicious presidential election, or a deterioration of the American soul, but this place has changed. It seems as if everybody has turned on each other like rats in a cage and there is a heavy cloud overhead.
So, I stepped out on the edge, literally.
There’s this place in the middle of Snow Canyon State Park where a gentle red rock formation rises above a little valley and there stands a beautiful little tree with gnarly intertwined roots. I was first taken there four years ago.
It had been a particularly horrid day.
I had to make a trip to Mesquite that day and on the way down, encountered an automobile crash on Utah Hill where a small car had rolled into a ditch. On the way back, I came across a grisly motorcycle accident in The Gorge – a stretch of the Arizona Strip which links Utah to Nevada. After hitting town, I passed a wreck where a couple of kids had rolled a truck along the parkway.
My wife, Cara, and I were going to a friend’s house that night. I called her and asked if I could pick her up early, then explained my day. She said to come by any time.
As we got into the car, I wasn’t quite sure where we would go, what we would do, but I knew I could use a little comfort. Then, she began pointing directions.
We ended up in the park and stopped near one of the red rock slopes.
She led me up the gentle climb to the very top, where we watched the sun disappear behind the rocks to the west. It was quiet, beautiful. The view, the conversation, the company cleansed my mind, my soul. After we hiked down, we came across a beautiful tree with gnarled roots, tightly intertwined. It was a nice metaphor for what was happening to us at that time.
She knew exactly what I needed that day. Still does, as a matter of fact.
A few months later, we were married under that tree. After the ceremony, we climbed to the top of the rocks and looked out on a world that was filled with adventure and wonder. We toasted life and love from atop that rock.
We climbed back up there last week and, well, the world is still filled with adventure and wonder. Unfortunately, it’s also, at the moment, filled with anger and bitterness that is manifesting itself in many ways.
I’m not sure what happened here during the time we were in Mexico, I don’t know what raised all of these negative feelings, but the loss of civility, compassion, reason is remarkable. Perhaps it’s weariness from the longest war in our nation’s history. Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of an economy that has cost so many so much the last half-dozen years. What I do know is that these ill feelings are manifesting themselves in a number of ways, but particularly in the shoving match that has become this presidential campaign.
There is no dialogue, only shouting. There is little truth, honor, or dignity and I look forward to it ending.
Sadly, this malaise seems to have spread beyond the confines of this horrid election season and into day-to-day living. I mean, I was walking out of a store the other day and crossed paths with somebody by a good five feet. The guy looked at me angrily, as if I had invaded his personal space, and muttered, “Watch it … watch it … watch it.” Really?
That’s why I’m grateful to have a place that I can go to recharge, to refresh, to see the beauty of a world that is often obscured by a vile, ugly curtain hoisted by those who have lost touch with humanity and decency.
It’s a place where I have found much comfort and joy, where I joined hands with my wife and embarked on an amazing journey.
It’s a place where I find peace and refuge from a world I understand less with each passing day, and I can reconnect with the things that are really important.
The rest of it?
Let’s just say I’ve become pretty good at weeding the garden.
No bad days!
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.