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... Because It's A Healing Place

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Offline Jim

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... Because It's A Healing Place
« on: March 12, 2006, 11:43:34 AM »
There have been many posts to this chat board trying to understand the uniqueness of Big Bend.  During my weeks here in the park, I've had time to reflect on why the Bend is a special place to me.  I decided to try and put down my thoughts in a short essay that is a bit philosophical - which is not easy for an engineering type to do.  I think it may capture some of the elements many of you have described in previous posts.  Be gentle; I don't venture into these deep waters very often.

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... Because It's A Healing Place

There have been several comments about why Big Bend is such a special place, and everyone has his or her own personal reasons for loving this part of Texas.  As I've pondered this question I've come to the conclusion that more than anything else, Big Bend is a healing place.

It is easy to see how the park heals our day to day frustrations, work overload, and stress.  Sometimes we just have to escape to a different environment to leave those irritations behind, and Big Bend is certainly different.  But on a deeper, personal level, more is needed to heal those really profound wounds in our lives.

First, in order to heal, solitude is essential. It is a time to rest, to recuperate, to think, and more importantly to listen; to listen to that voice that speaks only after all the chaos of our lives can be put aside.  The desert burns away all but the essential elements of life.  There are no distractions.  Sitting alone on top of a mountain, looking fifty or a hundred miles in any direction gives a bit of perspective to our lives.  We are very small in this immense creation.  If we and our problems vanished from the face of the earth, would much change?  Certainly not much out here in this vast land.  Staring at the unbelievably bright night sky from here, it is hard to comprehend the immensity of creation.  Recognizing our smallness in a vast universe helps put our lives and our losses in perspective.  There is more to life and the world than just our pain.  It seems that so often we are overwhelmed in our suffering such that we cannot see beyond it.  Our view of the big picture is so limited; we can only see a single self-focused view of the world and of our lives; we cannot get out into the open.  The long view of creation from a mountain top or viewing the Milky Way from such a remote speck of dust called Earth instills in us a deep sense of peace, of awe, and of trust in the long view of life.  There may never be "closure" for us, but at least we can take comfort in some degree of healing that breaks us out of our self-imposed confinement and leads us in a better direction.  It may not happen in a single visit or a single year, but the process starts here.

It is also inspiring to see life and beauty burst forth from the most hostile of desert environments.  If we take the time to look, lizards, insects, birds, and even larger animals not only exist, but thrive in the desert.  Life is everywhere.  And we can see the survival mechanisms evolved by desert plants to cope with life in these extremes.  Their lesson is not lost on us.  Nature has a way of coping, of changing, of dealing with all that it confronts.  Surely we are able to do no less.  Just as the cacti store up life-giving waters for the inevitable drought, visits to the Bend replenish our reserves for the hard times that are a part of every human's life.  We will survive.

Even though our lives may be a desert at the moment, we are reminded that it is a very short journey from the desert's edge to the refuge of the Chisos.  Life is refreshing and cool there.   It is our hope that it will be a similarly short journey to such solace from any suffering that is put into our lives.  We must learn patience.  Change will come.  We, too, must embrace change; it is essential to moving to this better place.

In Retrospect

I often go back to Big Bend in my thoughts, regardless of where I am, aware of the lessons of perspective, perseverance, and hope I have come to know from my visits to the park.  There is now a drought in this area, but I remember the spring bloom of a few years ago.  It was absolutely the most colorful and abundant display of life I've ever seen here.  I embrace the dry spell; it too shall pass.  It is part of the natural cycle of life here.  The Bend has witnessed thousands and thousands of these cycles.  The pattern seems unchanging; after decades of observing the park, the mountains, the rivers, the desert, the plants, a simpler harmonious way of life all still exist.  Reflecting on the unimaginable eons the Basin mountains have been watching over the Window and the desert below, my life seems so fleeting, so transitory.  Surely any suffering must be so as well.  During my short Lenten visit to the desert, I embrace the suffering.  I embrace the inevitable change.  As the Indians have said, "Only the rocks live forever."  Change will come.  I look to the future with hope, with confidence, with peace.

I am renewed.

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Offline Bobcat

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... Because It's A Healing Place
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2006, 11:58:44 AM »
Very nice, Jim.
Location Location Location

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Offline Matador

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... Because It's A Healing Place
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2006, 12:08:30 PM »
Jim,
Very expressive of how many of us feel. Thanks for putting it in print. Wife and I often comment how we need to return to BBNP to "restore".

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Jaymo

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Monday afternoon
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2006, 02:41:37 PM »
I leave tomorrow for the 19 mile loop on BBRSP and then on to BBNP.  Drive in (4wd, high clearance, but long wheel base) and backpack another 3-4 day loop in the backcountry.  I'd like to take the first part of that with me, and leave the last part framed on the wall in the office.

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BigBendHiker

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... Because It's A Healing Place
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2006, 04:22:37 PM »
Very well said, Jim.  Very well said, indeed.  


BBH

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Offline CurtR

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... Because It's A Healing Place
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2006, 04:28:20 PM »
Jim,

You hit the nail on the head.  I love the fact that BB seems, at least for now, undisturbed.  It is hard for me to leave my work at work, but in BB, it is easy... I am "distracted" by the park....

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chisos_muse

  • Guest
Lovely
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2006, 04:33:26 PM »
Thank You Jim, that was beautiful....and it really helped me today too. :D
You are a very gifted writer, I hope you continue this venture....I can't wait to read more of it!

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Offline billh

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great
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2006, 07:54:18 AM »
very nice Jim. Well said.

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Offline Casa Grande

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... Because It's A Healing Place
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2006, 11:56:35 PM »
Jim,

Thanks for articulating exactly what I feel too.  Absolutely perfect.

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Offline JeffB

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Right on
« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2006, 01:49:16 AM »
Very well said.  The chaos and stress of our day-to-day lives  leaves us when we are out there.  The remoteness and solitude gives us a chance to listen to our own thoughts and negotiate peace with our selves and our lives.  At least for a little while.
Jeff Bullard
Dallas, TX

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Offline rgibson

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... Because It's A Healing Place
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2006, 12:38:00 PM »
Wow!  Very well-written.

Have always said the Bend will fix whatever ails you whether it is your body, your mind, your soul or your spirit.

It takes most folks about 3 days b4 they can come down enough to begin.

You take it to a whole new level.  Printing and posting by my computer so I can see it often.

Thanks

 


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