We have officially started the long journey back home from Minneapolis to Oakland. 13 and 11-hour drives and longer days. Watching the scenery change from the Midwest to the plains and the mountains of the West is breathtaking.
Nebraska stole my heart with its crystal clear air and water. The light is different there—magical. Sweeping plains with cattle and winding, rushing rivers. Watching the sunset over the plains just after we crossed into Colorado was like some kind of dream.
Today we drive from Colorado to Las Vegas, where we will spend the night and have a day off. Driving through the Rockies is a kind of other-worldly feeling. The stunning beauty of the snow-covered mountains, thick with pines and aspens greet us at every turn and beckon us onward.
We ebb and flow, twist and turn with the landscape as snow turns to red rock and trees turn to bushes and shrubs, painting the land with pointillism. Valleys start to stretch out into plains again, the mountains turn back into canvases, and the dry earth reveals the subtlest of color pallets striped with reds, browns and pinks, meeting pale greens. Hawks circle high above the occasional stony earth jutting out into the blue sky, majestic and proud.
There are deep canyons with jagged, rocky mountains that fill the sky and hold more shades of browns than seem possible. We drive next to frothy rivers for miles, cradled in greens and greys. Looking out the side window for breaks in the rocks, I can see framing views of mountains and lush valleys for a few seconds before they disappear. Cliffs break into velvety green covered swaths of hills, sloping down to rich, grassy pastures.
They are all a reminder of our place and perspective. We owe everything to the land, water and sky. We owe everything to the planet and its gifts. And we owe everything to those who work to protect it.
I owe so much to the land, sea and sky. They were my saving grace when I was growing up. As most people who grow up in rural lands will tell you, the land becomes a part of you. It becomes part of your story, part of your heart, part of your spirit. Nature was a huge source of resilience when I was growing up and continues to be. The purest form of spirituality, the deepest form of healing. I remember getting up early to drive east to Point Udall and watch the sunrise over the place where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean; where the sunrise surrounds and embraces you on the jutting cliff over the crashing waves. Where the wind whips past you, stealing tears before they can fall. The wind that comes from over the ocean, that comes from the horizon. The wind that brought me to land that signifies both a death and a life that never should have been. The clouds turn pink to orange to reds, the sky turning from black to blue to autumn to spring.
I know I have survived because of nature. I know I made it through because of the magnificence I was immersed in that inhabits every part of the tiny island I was raised on. It was because of the ocean and the glistening starry night sky that I made it out with a beating heart.
Much of my story of healing is one of sand and waves and sun; of rain forests and dirt roads and the smell of newly wet earth; of stars and clouds and sunsets and sunrises over hot cups of tea; of deserts and cacti and cliffs that drop into the sea; of windy horizons and dry, golden fields and trees that feel like memories. I will always be indebted to the earth, as we all are. I will always long for the ocean. And I will always be grateful for journeys that take you far from where you know and lead you back home.