Gasping for breath on steep inclines, I tend to chatter to myself on the trail—especially when the trek gets tough. Maybe it's the endorphins, the energy drink, an over-baked brain, or simply oxygen deprivation. Anyone who listens gets an earful.
"I've decided," I say between gulps of rarified desert air, "that the key to a long, happy life…” My incessant talking requires more air—I take a mid-sentence breath. “…is to keep moving!" My friend Karl seems conveniently out of listening range. He stays ahead at a rapid pace, not responding. "Once you stop moving, it's all over." I finish my sentence to myself.
We humans are meant to move. We are built to navigate our way through the swirling changes of the universe. Our curiosity is the carrot that keeps us going. Once we lose that, the sparkle in our eye starts to dim.
"Marvelous day!" a 78-year-old German woman remarks as she passes us on the North Kaibab Trail. Tagging along, a young man follows her, trying to keep up. She is the most purposeful hiker we meet that day, radiant with life. We hear her announce her age to someone else she passes. Passing through her 78th year and the canyon floor, she doesn't seem like a person who looks much in her rear-view mirror. We never see her again.
Looking ahead, I see Karl bound up another steep incline, walking into the sun. His energy seems to match the fireball in the sky. The canyon around him seems to be suspended in time—boulders are stopped halfway down enormous cliffs. Slides seem frozen. Rocks teeter on the edge of falling into the abyss but never seem to get that extra nudge. Of course, this is an illusion. The entire canyon changes with every step, just too slowly for our mortal beings to comprehend. Geology has its own time frame. But, it's all moving.
I finally stop talking as I watch Karl disappear into the canyon and sun. I want to take it all in with my next breath. I stop to make a photo. Then, I pick up my feet and start moving again.