Today is the day I met the students who I will support for the next academic year. I’m so stinkin excited to be in this new role in higher education because I feel my true calling, values, dharma, that sort of thing—have been put on the cheese grater of life to sort themselves into little shreds of knowledge about the world, about myself. What I know now is that some roles help me play out the most authentic version of myself. A person who is seasonal in the bliss of summer sunshine and the reigns of the blue winter of discontent.
I had lived in Wyoming for 32 years and what I find about Colorado is that things are just so big. The mountains more ominous requiring more meticulous planning, the folks around me just a little more intense. Things here begin to intimidate where the river-blood beats fast in the jugular of the Rockies, the main vein of the American arm of the west. So many have come to seek something and to put their ear to the chest of mama mountain, some hoping for solace and some knowing its already there.
And here I am, in all of it, drumming through my own intensity and spiritual seeking in the mountains. I keep getting speeding tickets in Colorado and watch as heads shake around me mouthing the words—get Colorado plates. And I know, and still I hold onto a few things Wyoming secretly wondering about these big mountains, these big people, this diverse place. This is how I felt coming to college and so I bow to the parallel process of students as they, too, wonder of the seasons of their heart, of the rivers and synapses in their minds.
I sit trying to wrap up whatever poetic stuff I am aiming for and find that within the narrow lies the vast aww of detail. The paradox of my country bumpkin life becomes so small like the detail professed from a single cork-lined room written about so beautifully by Proust who took the same walk around his estate in such ecstasy and humility that it became volumes of work. And other writers of the time captured the magnificence of the wide, wide, world documenting expeditions up mountains and travels to places where folks can only visit and leave understanding it is not their home, humans can’t live here.
And now I live in between homes, undulating in two Rocky Mountain West states eyeballing New Mexico and dreaming of building tiny homes in Alaska and Canada knowing that I’ve got a long way to go, such a long way, why not put on some sunglasses and turn up the music taking turns to drive being careful to not get too complacent on the switchback. Start paying attention a little more to the trees and sky around me that I have finally created the space to explore.
“Colorado and Wyoming are America’s highest states, averaging 6,800 feet and 6,700 feet above sea level. Utah comes in third at 6,100 feet, New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho each break 5,000 feet, and the rest of the field is hardly worth mentioning. At 3,400 feet, Montana is only half as high as Colorado, and Alaska, despite having the highest peaks, is even further down the list at 1,900 feet. Colorado has more fourteeners than all the other U.S. states combined, and more than all of Canada too. Colorado’s lowest point (3,315 feet along the Kansas border) is higher than the highest point in twenty other states. Rivers begin here and flow away to all the points of the compass. Colorado receives no rivers from another state (unless you count the Green River’s’ brief in and out from Utah).Wyoming’s Wind River Range is the only mountain in North America that supplies water to all three master streams of the American West: Missouri, Colorado, and Columbia rivers.”
― Keith Meldahl, Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains