The scenery has turned spartan.
We drop down into a red-rock desert.
The group stops for gas in Green River,
and I check my e-mail again.
A rustic two-story motel
surrounded by cottonwoods.
No phones in the rooms,
there is wireless Internet access,
installed a few years ago
because, the proprietor says,
people could not stand
to be without it.
We head into the tight curves
the San Juan has carved
from ancient sandstone,
float away from our devices
a short distance downstream,
past a narrow steel bridge
150 feet above the river —
after which there is
no longer coverage.
Cellphones do not work here,
e-mail is inaccessible
laptops have been left behind
with their drumbeat of incoming data
digital bursts of distraction
the false sense of urgency
the expectation of e-mail
their balm to times of micro-boredom.
Time is slowing down
For the first time
in three days in the wilderness,
I am not wearing my watch.
I forgot. It is a small thing,
I have lost the nagging feeling
to check for a phone in the pocket.
We sit in a red kayak in calm waters,
passing a goose and her two goslings on the banks
We eat pork chops, the Big Dipper brilliant above,
the thousand-foot canyon walls
narrowing our view of the heavens.
A few bats dart and dive,
seeking bugs drawn to the flashlights
The conversations blur,
with periods of silence
awed looks at surroundings —
the circling hawks, the bighorn sheep.
This is the rhythm of our trip:
As the river flows, so do the ideas.
our path to uncluttered thinking
to our appreciation that
attention is the holy grail;
everything that you’re conscious of,
everything you let in,
everything you remember
and you forget,
depends on it.
Adrian Hoad-Reddick, August 19, 2010
Inspired by New York Times article, Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain by Matt Richtel, August 15, 2010