All is innocence in an overwhelming storm.

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Cliff dwelling rock shelter during an afternoon storm in Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, Arizona.

When I think of Arizona indian country I think of beautiful drama created by water.


High mesas cut by vertical cliffs that plunge to verdant riverbeds and ancient water ways; grand temporary waterfalls swollen only by flash floods; the ancient shelters of people who both needed water and sought shelter from it — oh humans, to be conflicted is the nature of life, the duality of craving to taste everything you want and at the same time not wanting to be inconvenienced by it.

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Gathering afternoon storm.

What of water? It is undenyably the strongest of the elements, impervious, patient, and commands submission with its persistence.  Stingy clouds float above, heavy with sustenance but careless for when it falls.  The absence of water in our hands can feel desparate, but water is an element of earth after all.  Given the higher powers of time and gravity it finds its way down and settles in a pocket.  The universe wants us to live and so always gives us what we need. Our work is to find it.  One can sit still and wait for water or know that it is everywhere and find a pocket thats ready to give.

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Dry waterfall hiding at the head of slim nameless slot that took several hours to scramble.
Relaxing in the slot before the rain. It sounded like an aviary.
Most cracks in the cliffs contain lush secret worlds. Just get out before the afternoon rain.

It is a lucky desert wanderer who finds herself in a sudden storm.  There is chaos and electricity and so much life that it is impossible to organize or gather.  A wise one will not hide from the flood, but turn her umbrella upsidedown and give thanks. It is in those few hours of surrender to the monsoon that there is honesty.  Good and evil can’t form faces in a moment that transcends judgement.  When her only motivation is to take what she needs to live another day, and what she needs is given freely, she finds herself in a moment of grace.  She can take refreshment passionately and have peace.  This is innocence.

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It begins.

When your desert trail becomes a deluge, know your place, because all paths become rivers but not all rivers are paths.  Water overwhelms the world.  It comes from above, the sides, and from under your feet.  It is too much to make sense of, too much to harness, confusion can run riot if you think you are in control.  You can only surrender.  Surrender to the plenty, the fear, the inevitable end, the wet cold clothes, and the painful blisters that you chose to accept the moment you left the dead space of your shelter to experience being alive.

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All trails become rivers, but not all rivers are trails.

Know that storms are temporary gifts like floods of emotion. Bathe in the deluge.  Smile at the sky and be a creature of the moment with a heart full of love and a mouth open wide to receive the offering.  This gift is not yours to command, it has its time.  Celebrate it.

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Delicious fresh rain pockets.

The deluge will eventually spend itself and drain away to shimmer in places unseen.  That is the way.  Tomorrow you will traverse rocks once submerged and find only shallow fetid puddles.  If you truly surrendered to the monsoon you can take comfort in knowing that you appreciated the rain when it came and the world will eventually be filled with more.  The next storm will come in a different time and probably a different place, but the universe wants us to thrive and so makes many clouds.

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Fetid, larva infested rain pocket one day after the rain.

As an adventurer in life, over and over again I make the choice to accept whatever hardship may come from surrendering to the unknown and traveling on its terms. I do my best to accept the outcome with grace.  I hike when its too hot because outdoor adventure doesn’t come with air conditioning.  I let curiosity push me through too many miles because… “what’s over there?!”  Over and over again I open my heart to the possibility of being filled with love.

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The reward is that some form of magic presents itself everywhere I go.  It comes in the forms of natural beauty, an idea, people with kindness and passion, a sense of accomplishment, and sometimes it just swells from within and pours out in tears because I know that I’m given a life to live and try to love.


I’ve surrendered to the storm.  Let it fill me up.  Let it shake me with fear.  Let it leave me shivering.  Let it take my pride.  Only let it leave me with the strength to stand for the next one so I can feel grace and innocence over and over again.  I keep faith that there will be a next one.  The world keeps giving us the next one because we are supposed to live.

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I dedicate this writing to my friend Sam who knows the hole in the soul and understands its not to be filled but is a cord to infinity.

 

 

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