Black Elk, after traveling all over including Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody’s show, made this comment in his book Black Elk Speaks. “After a while I got used to being there, but I was like a man who had never had a vision. I felt dead and my people seemed lost, and I thought I might never find them again.”
I have been traveling. Seeing fantastic landscapes that appear to be out of your dreams, sleeping under the stars every night, exploring ancient pictures that tell of hunts, buffalo, bighorn sheep, and phantasmagorical creatures.
Arches National Park is weird and unreal, like a moonscape, but I did see a coyote wandering around. Canyonlands is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
An old man at a viewpoint in Island in the Sky remarked to me “This is one of the two best Parks in the U.S.”
“What’s the other one?” I asked.
I’ve met people from Bozeman, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and New Mexico. Many are on their second or third trip. There’s just too much here to see, especially in Canyonlands which could take a lifetime of exploring, let alone driving.
Moab is a mecca for recreation. Hikers, bikers, climbers, hunters, boaters, off-roaders–whatever pleasurizing you can think of in the outdoors. Just go into town and experience their beautiful expensive visitors’ center, with every possible pamphlet, extremely helpful and friendly staff to guide you through any experience you want of the outdoors; this not only was a great boon for my trip experience, but gave me the distinct feeling that all of nature was here to give me a great vacation. Oh, they did say “Be safe when you 4-wheel to these petroglyphs”, “Bring lots of water”, etc. But the orientation, the philosophy all shared by our entire culture seemed to be symbolized here, in this tiny booming town. “There is only this physical world, and its worth exploiting the hell out of it till we die.”
And that is why I thought of Black Elk, shaman and prophet. He stepped out of his world, a world where every aspect of nature is accepted as a form of spirit energy, every object, every individual, human and non-. Where the lightning is a God, the storm clouds are a God, the rain is a God, the river is a God. And then he spent time traveling the world with Buffalo Bill, where now all that he had held sacred was viewed as entertainment. And after a time of doing that, he grew accustomed, but he felt dead inside.
Fun is great. And so is the sensitivity that only comes with a slowness; entering into the field of Nature like the summers of childhood. Aldo Leopold, writing of his time in Arches National Park says “there was time enough for once to do nothing, or next to nothing.” In that, we might, as a society, learn something new.