Tag: Mountains

Notes on Utah: Isolation on an Alien World

The alien landscape of southern Utah is unlike anything I had seen before.

If the familiar sky wasn’t overhead, the arches and canyons rising out of the red sand would be otherworldly.

Closing my eyes in the shadows, I listened and heard a silence unlike anything I had ever experienced.

The stark emptiness of my perception made me uncomfortable.

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Alone in forests and mountains, I had experienced silence before. But not like this. In those moments I was surrounded by something, and even through silence, I could hear that something.

Nothing surrounded me here– just a cold, alien, landscape. 

Within my body, I felt the isolation this land had formed in as I continued along the path.

I was alone here.

Climbing up a final stone slab, I was greeted by an arch giving me a window into the blue sky above. Through its window I saw a lone plane climbing into the sky.

A distant reminder of where I came from.

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Still, all I could hear was silence.

There are not many times in my life I had felt so alone, and in this moment, even with the plane in sight, I felt it more than ever.

But despite the isolation, I suddenly felt at peace.

The red of arches of this landscape were formed by ancient water and wind eroding the rock.

We are formed by the burden of the day-to-day wearing on us, the constant feeling of never being left to oneself, always having to conform to external forces.

In this moment I was truly by myself, and I resented my initial feeling of being made uncomfortable by the silence.

We need to be alone at times, but it always seems out of reach

I had it here, I just didn’t recognize it when I first heard it.

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Notes on Utah: Reflection on Water

 

Most people I met in Utah hated the Salt Lake.

It smells bad, it’s filled with brine shrimp, and it’s ugly.

A few months after arriving in Utah,  I got the chance to see the lake myself.

I pulled over to the side of the road and looked at the expanse.

The surface seemed like it had a reflective film placed over it. The mountains, deep blue sky, and wispy clouds were mirrored on the surface of the Lake.

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Approaching the shore I looked down and saw myself in the water. It’s not ugly, I thought— It’s just a reflection. 

The landscape nestled and cradled the Lake, and the Lake reciprocated the beauty.

But consider the Lake itself.

With no mountains and a colorless sky above, the Lake would be empty, devoid of life.

I drove further up the road until I got to a place with no landscape. From here, the lake was nothing.

Not Ugly.

It was just nothing. 

Months later I was walking through the Temple Square and stopped in my tracks. There was a pool with perfectly translucent water. On the surface you could see the sky and buildings above.

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I was reminded of my experience at the Salt Lake.

The shallow pool that held the water was nothing but black stone.  The water captured the fleeting picture of the city and held its beauty, just as the city held it.

But by itself the pool was nothing. 

No matter what surrounds it, the water holds it in. The beautiful, the ugly, and the nothing.

I am not too different than this. My surroundings, the landscape around me, who is around me, is all captured and reflected by myself.

I also know that I change, just as the seasons change the landscape.

The reflection shifts, only holding onto what cradles it.

Maybe my sentiment is what is hinted at by Emerson:

“To the attentive eye, each moment of the year has its own beauty, and in the same field, it beholds, every hour, a picture which was never seen before, and which shall never be seen again. The heavens change every moment, and reflect their glory or gloom on the plains beneath.

              -Emerson “Nature”

 

 

Notes on Utah: Valley to the Sound

I recently returned to Seattle after living in Utah for a stretch of time.

Living in the Salt Lake Valley was one of the most unexpectedly transformative experiences of my life.

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The color palette and tones of the Salt Lake Valley are a lot different than the Puget Sound’s.

It’s amazing how much my time in Utah expanded my aesthetic horizons.

Everyday I was face to face with the cool yellows, greens, and browns of the Valley, with mountains extending into the blue sky everywhere I looked.

When night came, the entire landscape was plunged into darkness, but the sky was still alight with colors that mimicked that of the land’s during the day.

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The shades and hues that comprised the Valley’s landscape molded my mind and mood, overtime shaping me into a new person.

When I returned to Seattle, I felt different yet again.

I didn’t feel like I had returned to the person I was before. My palette was now mixed with the colors that painted Utah’s landscape.

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