On a Sunday in November I sat in the sand with Woods next to partition arch and looked at bits of wood and rock. The wind swirled around us and the pinyon swayed, and we felt the power and wonder of the wild desert together. Woods offered me a rock to chew, which I did, and then gave it back. We found a little log that he turned into a drum. We “talked." I saw in his eyes the same pleasure I felt in being there.
Later in the day I hiked with friends to Dark Angel, a tower in Arches National Park that broods over a desert valley far past the tourist hordes. As I circled its base I saw old bolts that traced a climbers’ path to the summit. Overhanging hand cracks. Improbable traverses. The tower spoke a language in which I was once fluent.
When we left I wanted to be a different person: someone I was years ago, but reincarnated into this new life with my son and wife. There was a time when I was connected to the earth. When my body was shaped by wind and sun and stone. I want my son to know the person I was then as well as the one I am now.
Or maybe I want him to know a person who is neither then nor now: one with the strength to carry a pack full of gear, but the willingness to drop it and pick him up. One who can reach a summit, but also forego it for a beautiful view and a moment of connection. I am learning that the greatest power is the power to be present.