Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Benefits of Discomfort

“Direct experience is out best teacher, but it is exactly what we are most bent on obliterating, because it is often so painful. We grow more comfortable at the price of knowing the world and therefore ourselves."    Joe Kane, Running the Amazon. 

We are not meant to live our lives indoors, not meant to breathe caged and recirculated air or always be warm and comfortable. Discomfort builds callus and muscle and bone. It breeds ingenuity and community: a melding of talent and time. The Greek word for comfort is paregoria—the root for the word Paregoric—an opioid once given to children to put them to sleep. Comfort being a kind of drug that dulls the senses and leads us into a stupor. Living outside for 31 days reminded me of this. Being home, in front of the fire and feeling like I need a nap reminds me of it too.

Naseem Rakha -  December 26, 2015

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sun Worship

Kwagunt RM 56.5 - naseem rakha 

In winter, in the canyon, you worship the sun—seek it out like a moth to its flame. There it is—around the next bend, in that eddy, up that cliff. Once in its rays, you shed layers, and your face lifts and your hands are removed from gloves and stretch bare and free out toward the light.

It has snowed as low as the river, and in pre-dam times before the daily tidal shifts caused by the power needs of Phoenix and its outliers, parts of the river have even frozen. But we 15 on our river trip were lucky. The snow we saw was well behaved; sticking to the upper ledges of the canyon, spackling the Kaibab and Toroweep, icing on a 1.8 billion year old cake. After the sun set it was the fire we all huddled by, driftwood and laughter our fuel. Songs too, and chocolate bars. A little bourbon. We did wake to ice a few times, and frost on our tents and sleeping bags. But tea and coffee were quick to brew, and if it was a layover day the fire was re-lit and there we'd sit waiting for our sun: Helios, a nuclear fireball, massive and brilliant and blinding, and yet somehow, strangely, a life-giver, a sustainer, a distant yet giving god.

Naseem Rakha, December 21, 2015

snow falling in the canyon - naseem rakha

Grand Canyon Moon

For a month we lived under the sky—no ceilings, no walls, just skin and sun and water. Just stone and ice. And as we moved down river the moon followed, growing each night, lighting paths for night time walks, staring down, stark and white, big then bigger, rising later and later, night light becoming morning beam. We watched it rise and set, grow then recede back into full shadow, until all there was were long dark nights punctuated by the ion trails of falling meteors—the Geminids, yellow and orange against Orion, Cassiopeia, the Dippers - big and small - the froth of the Milky Way. It reminded me of breath. It reminded me of life, of cycles. Of all the things we do that eventually lead us back to where we began.

Naseem Rakha - December 20, 2015