A Grand Canyon Stream of Consciousness

Rim2Rim2Rim in 50 miles (ish)

We set out under a blanket of stars. Under the same stars that overlooked the trillions of people before us, attempting similar feats. Of course, you can say that about any night of any day, but for some reason the act of pursuing such a wild adventure seemed to accentuate the existential awe. I couldn’t help but think about the first people to set foot on the edge of the canyon. What did they think? Or more- what did they feel? I’m starting to wonder if this sort of place could ever really be explained in its entirety. 

And so, under these stars, with these thoughts in mind, we traipsed down the south rim of the canyon, down the winding paths, cautiously maneuvering past mules and steep cliffs. We watched the slow glow of the sun as it washed across the canyon walls, shape-shifting shadows coming alive and making us feel as if we were a part of some fantastic piece of art. Which, in a way, we were. It’s funny; I feel like there are many reasons to attempt extreme endeavors like this. For me, it’s always a sort of philosophical thing. It seems to ground me and lead me back to myself. Part of my motivation to do any of this is to feel that raw connection to existence and the world around me. There’s just something about pushing yourself so hard that you let go of everything but survival and completion of this wild adventure. It strips away the layers, the messy anxieties that often burden us. It becomes an “it is what it is” scenario. 

A friend we chatted with at a tiny coffee shop before our adventure unintentionally planted this realization within me. He told us of a time when he attempted to run Rim2Rim2Rim- where he was struggling near the last leg of the run, and he told his friend “well, if I die- I die”. We sat there laughing, and continued drinking our coffee and chatting about life. But, although a bit morbid and a bit comical, I held onto that thought. When do we every truly accept thing as they are? For me, it’s when I do things so wild and difficult that it’s impossible to hold onto a feeling of control. And when I let go of that- that’s when I feel truly alive.  

So there we were, living the is what it is moments. Recalling the day in flashes of emotions and ups and downs. Imagine: the feeling at mile 1, you’re running down into the canyon as the sun is slowly rising and the sky turning a magical pink. Mile 17, feeling a bit dizzy and wondering if you made a mistake. At mile 24, where it’s starting to get hard but you’re almost to a marathon and it’s okay because you’re excited. At mile 35, where it’s all you can do to keep moving and the sun is beating down on you and you’re feeling queasy from one too many chai flavored energy gels. And then mile 43, where you don’t even know what mile it is and it’s dark and you’re tired and disoriented and think you hear a mountain lion and all you want to do is go home… but you still have a seeming million hazy miles and thousands of vertical to go- THERE. There is the ‘is what it is.’ When you let go and think, well, if my legs hurt- okay. If there’s a mountain lion- okay. If your feet are blistered and bloody and you get home at 3 am- okay. Because at this point, there’s nothing more you can do to change the situation, and whatever happens, happens.

As a caveat, of course, you have to be smart. Bad things happen. You have to be aware and train and avoid throwing caution into the wind- the wilderness is not something to be messed with. But just a dose of letting go, of accepting pain, of pursuing that feeling of acceptance- it can work miracles. It can give that reset, that pull-you-down-to-earth, remind you of who you are typa thing. It’s different for every person. But for me, at this point in time, it’s this.

It is what it is. 

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