In Depths & Corners Of The Earth…Find Yourself.
This photo hides my tears from greeting THE place where my soul was reborn. As I turned around to share how special this moment was, I looked right into the lens of my friend’s camera who was waiting for my reaction. The trip to Grand Canyon, on the way to see my family in Az, happened after 16 years apart…feels like another lifetime, a detour that was unplanned, and turned an ordinary trip across the desert into an unforgettable experience.
Back in 1997, as we hiked down the canyon walls, I felt my soul completely stripped layer by layer…like an onion, confused, and ultimately set free. During that trip, I was reading The Art Of Happiness by Dalai Lama, (highly recommend it to anyone regardless of your spiritual path) which was my very first encounter with any Eastern ways of teaching about living (not much about religion) which has permanently redefined my perspective on life, spirituality, humanity, compassion, love, life’s purpose, happiness, and helped me evaluate who I am and where I fit within not only the spiritual spectrum but life itself.
I grew up in a predominantly Catholic Poland, under a Communist Soviet regime, in Gdańsk, the city where WWII started, the city which was called Free City (Wolne miasto)…so much history if you ever visit eastern Europe, walk through the streets of Gdańsk. I left the country when I was 15 after communism was abolished, now Poland is thriving, the only resemblance of what I left behind are the buildings and ethnic food.
Surreal is the only way to describe what you feel when you compare the contrast between the two countries…these days Poland has transformed into one of the fastest growing countries in EU. Poland back then was also 87% Catholic so at 20 years of age, while hiking GC and reading a buddhist perspective on how to live happily left a profound impression on me and affected me deeply… and I must say, permanently. You might or might not feel the same level of impact, but I can guarantee you that this book will change the way you feel about life and Grand Canyon will put a permanent stamp on it.
Ok, let’s talk about one of the most incredible place on earth: The Grand Canyon…
Grand Canyon is beautiful when seen from the rim, try visiting in the winter and it will be covered in snow like a painting, but it’s truly magical and breathtaking when you hike down and stand by the river.
It will transform you, if you don’t rush and surrender to its magic, embrace its power; it will test you physically and break you down emotionally if you resist it. Be ready to surrender and let go. As you hike down, pause at times when there are no other people in sight (start your hike at a crack of dawn, hear the silence?….then your heartbeat?…now notice how your heartbeat echoes across the entire Canyon. The feeling is indescribable.
If you‘ve never been, the best way to describe the experience is it being the opposite of what you feel when climbing any mountain…after all, you are descending into the crevice of the earth…watching your ego shrink in size with every step as the mother nature embraces your soul and welcomes you home.
It’s a place that will make you feel small and insignificant yet in complete synergy with the earth while it embraces your soul. It’s a place that will rid you of any sense of grandeur, heal, inspire and connect you to the mother earth, and by the time you re-emerge from its depths, you are not the same, you will never be the same again, the transformation is permanent. At least it was for me. Now when I go back, all I got to show for it is tears of gratitude and a feeling of peace.
Back in 1997, we were completely unprepared to hike, had no idea how long it would take to reach the river, no proper clothing, no food (the things you dare to do in your 20s)…a simple sunrise gazing at 4:30am at the top of the rim turned into an unforgettable 16 hour hike round trip (because when will we ever do this again…) which then allowed the new me to reemerge from its depths…more humbled, more compassionate and with clarity about my own existence and purpose…and who I truly was…and hungry as hell beyond belief. Prepare.
I never thought that a trip to Grand Canyon could do all that…but it did. No wonder it’s called one of the seven wonders of the world.
This place is unlike any other on earth, words truly can’t describe what I felt, but I hope some of that can be read in my facial expression in the above photo, just enough to inspire you to start your own journey. Because as I stood there years later, at the rim of its heart, looking at the veins, feeling its pulse, I was taken back again to the moment I have greeted the deepest corners of my own soul, corners I never knew existed.
As you stand there in awe overlooking at its vastness, the familiar echo calls out your name, yet there’s an indescribable silence around you. And when you look as far as your gaze can reach, you start to feel its walls moving towards you, as if to embrace your body like a mother embraces her child…you shed a tear and smile because it disarms you completely… let go and be one with it, at last.
This is the very moment where you realize you belong to the earth as much as the earth belongs to you and nothing or nobody can take that away from you. Welcome home.
If you ever feel lost, go….go find yourself in the depths of Grand Canyon and keep going until you find what you’re looking for…your true self.
And if you have been there and can relate at all to what I’m describing, please share your story.