Colorado, Early September, 2021
I find myself in the mountains for the second time this summer. I have traveled west from Ohio in search of pine trees and snowmelt lakes and unironic Patagonia obsessives. I have reliably found all three. For the resident of a state whose predominant geography is corn fields, the Rocky Mountains are about as different as one can get within a 3 hour flight.
I’d like to capture the feeling of longing and belonging that I feel here in this state: choose one of Colorado, emotional, mental. It drives me, this inner conduction, in a newly relentless way. I want to be here more. I am scratching my head and journaling spasmodically. With my pen as a dowsing rod, I trudge through my interior landscape, searching for some wellspring. Whether that leads to the foothills of these mountains or to my general emotional discombobulation, I cannot yet say.
(Another effort, aside from harried oblique self-reflection, should be the regular plumbing of my altitude-inspired creative energy for more written creative output. I should be capturing inspiration from this place, instead of just marveling at it. True, I am not a son of Colorado or the mountains, but I am an heir to the written American testimony. I should turn away from me and onto the page.)
Here, dwarfed by towering tectonic byproducts, there are numberless activities and visibilities to give way to. There are infinite means to be busy, to see beauty, to be a footnote in the history of a place. It’s enough to drive you to wonder why you should bother.
But of course I do bother, and that is why I find myself back here. Hikes and hot springs and scoops of ice cream that have come from snowmelt to rivers to rain to grass to cows to milk to cream to a roadside stand where for $5 I can share a cone with an effervescent 5-year-old. Every lick a connection to a land and a lived experience.
Where does this elation and delectation originate? Is it the travel or the activity or the personal agency or the pride of accomplishment? Yes to all. And, in some ways, no to each.
This reflection on a mountain trip is perhaps an allegory for my reflection on my life itself — a microcosm of my brightest joys and darkest self-doubts and a catalog of considerations to which I will always be a servant.
Perhaps it is enough.