Part 2: Fish River Canyon
The Edge of the World...
It must be said that from a personal stand point, I’m quite accustomed to blisters, even big juicy blood blisters right in the sweet spot of where my rock climbing shoes presses hardest against my toe… So anything the Fish River Canyon threw my way I was well prepared for.
Nevertheless, it is what it is, an irritation; and when they all mount, trouble emerges. Just like the millions of grains of sand which poured from our shoes at every rest point… but alas, this is what we signed up (and paid!) for.
I can honestly say I hit a very low point during night 2 – as did we all – but I clung to that Bible verse in Corinthians, so eloquently highlighted for me by Mark Lowry in one of his messages: “This too shall pass”. Suffice is to say, prayers were said, whispered, moaned and mumbled through much of the windy and sandy night, where sleep seemed to escape most. (Some definitely got a few winks – you could always tell by the differing pitch of the snoring pattern emanating from a few sleeping bags)
But why did I entitle this Inconsequential? This was a mighty feat, a triumph of human spirit long to be remembered by a tired few; it’s certainly not something to be scoffed at. However, there are so many instances where ‘inconsequential’ would be a perfectly appropriate term – consider the blisters I spoke of, and then the sand, the heat, the pain… in the end, if you overcome them, they may seem of little consequence.
Then consider the footprints, those you tread in, and those you leave behind… nature will inevitably claim all those back, and no trace will be left to mark where you’ve been. Lying snug in my sleeping bag, listening to the wildlife – mostly birds with an occasional grunt from a Baboon – then waking the next morning to find animal tracks just a few meters from where you slept, be they baboon or leopard; it certainly gets the mind working. Not to get too deep here but, noticing the small effect we had on the Canyon and its Eco system (which is how it should be), and then returning home to settle into the old routines again (Ricky likening it to plugging back into The Matrix), there seems to be a common theme here. Barring a few memorable pictures to keep record of the accomplishment, there’s little else but the knowledge each hiker shares.
And yet, there’s nothing new in this apparent revelation. Life goes on, the amazing personal feats; just like those that are being achieved in the Olympics, will only be remembered by a concerned few, and forgotten or ignored by another few.
So that’s it, in the greater scheme of things, our footprints will be blown or washed away in time… and yet, and yet we trudge. This wasn’t meant to be a post about life and the passing winds of time, but while walking in the midday heat or lying in the cool dark, staring up at the bright stars and full moon, you can’t help but be aware of your inherent connectivity with the surroundings. The subtle breath of life, the morning rays of sunshine, a gentle stream of flowing water to quench your thirst… and perhaps even a friendly helping hand just when you need it most. Life in the Canyon helps you realize, or reminds you of what is inconsequential – and to help you let go of it. What makes you linger to take a closer look, and what really truly matters in life, especially when it feels like you’re treading, the edge of the world.