darkness, memories, a sluggish horny toad

It has not been a great couple of weeks for Colorado National Monument. This place has a vibe to it, often, of discomfort and a dark lack of safety, and recently those feelings came frighteningly, truthfully, to the surface. There have been multiple deaths in the park, and my dear friends and coworkers (brave and strong and caring people) have had to deal with them, hands-on and hearts-on, and there is altogether too much darkness.

Photo Sep 16, 3 40 45 PMThings like this are totally unimaginable until they hit you in the face. It’s not like a baseball, or something like that. Baseballs, you have an idea of baseballs – you’ve hefted one in your palm, tossed one to a friend, felt one hit your leather mitt hard. Even if you’ve never been hit in the face by one, you can probably get a reasonable mental picture of what it would be like. But human suffering, death, tragic accidents, the struggle to save lives and ease the suffering of both the dying and the survivors; these things are darkness – unseeable, unmapped, unimaginable. And I have no idea. This month, I have crept around the brink of darkness, have been close to it but still some degrees removed, and so I cannot imagine, and I have no words or explanation. It is always my goal to be a refuge, to offer comfort, but I have never been deep down in that hole, and all of my words come from a mind that cannot conceive.

I think back to my Wilderness First Responder course, back in early May in northern Colorado when there were still crunchy snowdrifts all around, and how all of our practice scenarios were fun. I remember creeping around in the dark, snow falling down the tops of my hiking boots, crouching over a ‘broken’ tib-fib with water and gauze, clearing the airway of a young woman suffering from a ‘seizure,’ and these memories are fond ones. Beyond a few real-life, very minor incidents, all of my experiences with responding to medical or traumatic issues were artificially created. Theoretically, I know how to perform CPR, or pull traction on a broken femur, or assess an unconscious patient, but realistically, I have absolutely no effing idea what it’s like to have to do any of it.

I try sending light, or love, or whatever, same thing, out to those people who DO know. Who have been down in that hole. And that’s all I can do, all any of us can do, and it seems to me, to my unknowing mind, like a pretty damn important task to work at: sending some light, at least some reflections or fading rays, into the darkness, however that happens. Which is just exactly what my coworkers, this month, the le rangers, have been doing themselves – letting themselves down into the hole in order to spread some comfort down there, and make a ladder back to the surface. I do not know if there is a more important job.

Photo Sep 25, 4 31 35 PMBefore this post gets too depressing, or, god-forbid, sermon-y, let me mention a few more pleasant things. For example, yesterday (in a sunny desert) I caught a plump short-horned lizard, who more commonly goes by the moniker ‘horny toad.’ I had to scuttle after him for several yards before I caught him (he got hung up in a grass clump), but once caught, he turned totally sluggish. He was apathetic to his state, or maybe just comfy in my hand.  His expression was one of docile resignation.

Also in that sunny desert, I got a shooting lesson from Mike, who is a very good teacher and patiently entertained all of my questions about how exactly the firing mechanism worked and what all these other shell casings lying on the ground were from and so forth. While I am pretty much a complete pacifist, I think it’s pretty important to learn as many new skills as possible, and I always favor knowledge and experience over ignorance. Also, I fully admit, it was pretty dang satisfying to successfully hit my target (an empty, plastic iced tea bottle atop an old cardboard box.)

Photo Sep 25, 2 35 49 PMAnd today, I spent hours crawling around on rocks in a trail-less, sunny canyon; and I am sitting in a clean and peaceful library; and this morning I drank a giant mug of delicious coffee; and I saw a fat yellow-and-black caterpillar this afternoon; and the world continues to be filled with serene, pretty things that exist right there alongside all of the darkness. I don’t know who’s winning but as it is, we’re all carrying on.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “darkness, memories, a sluggish horny toad

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s