Any Excuse to Travel

Too much to hope for?

Eons ago, when I was an avid Enid Blyton fan, I’d go play in the field behind our house. It had a hole in the ground that to me was huge. Not quite as big as meteor crater, but to my little mind, it was big enough to map. To explore. To get lost in. Me and my neighbour would spend hours there. She always got to be Julian because she was the oldest. I got to be Dick. Neither of us was much interested in being Ann or George and we didn’t have Timmy the dog or bottles of ginger beer. But we had fun.

A few years back, on a whim, I climbed through the ditch at the back of the field and went looking for my crater. It was tiny. So small that I couldn’t really believe I’d ever thought it to be so huge. Memory does that to us. Time does it, too. As does distance. We tend to make things bigger and better than they ever were. Old relationships become sadly perfect. Events become grander. Holidays become more amazing. Few, if any, memories, ever stay true to what actually happened, each one coloured by the prism of the experiences and perspectives that followed.

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I’m like that with places. It had been about 20 years since I’d turned a corner in Sedona, Arizona, and been gobsmacked by the redness of it all. The rocks, standing tall and magnificent, daring anyone and everyone to do their damnedest to move them or get past them. And in the midst of the barren landscape, tiny shrubs taking root, as if in challenge. The opening lines of John Donne’s No man is an island came to mind.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main

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Mile after mile of red rock bespeckled with the occasional daub of green stretched before us. Just outside the city limits of Sedona, the world was as I had remembered it. As awesome and as beautiful as it was 20 years ago.

The average age hasn’t changed much. With 10,000 year-round inhabitants, the means still stands at 50. But the diversity comes from the millions of tourists who visit every year. I knew it would be too much to hope that the town itself had remained unchanged – that it still had the one main street with a hotch-potch of artisan shops, a hand or two of tarot readers and the faint purple glow of some new age auras. But still, I hoped.

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6 responses

  1. Oh Mary… what a way you have with words. You are an artist brushing a canvas asking the reader to reflect. Specifically….”memory, time, distance make things bigger, sadly perfect, grander, more amazing…..” “Few, if any memories ever stay true to what actually happened, each one coloured by the prism of the experiences and perspectives that followed.” I treasure my memories (the ones that are still ‘etched’ in the grey matter) and look forward to creating more . Maybe making them bigger and more (sadly) perfect etc. is what we need to keep the adventure going.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, Donna. Yet somehow I can’t help but think of how much time we spend in the past and the future and ignore the present because it isn’t as perfect as the past we remember or the future we hope for.

  2. As ever Mary a beautiful view through your eyes of what the world has to offer. My first thought was about the Christmas tree that looked so huge when i was young, but later on in life it was just a little tree, obviously I had grown a few inches.
    As for memories and them being more ‘perfect’ as we age – why not? At the end of the day we reflect on our memories and normally they are happy memories. Maybe they were so perfect at the time, but as we age we raise our expectations. We no longer see with the eyes of a child, but with the eyes of an adult. Unfortunately of course 🙂
    God bless

    1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if technology could figure out a way to let us look at life again through the eyes of a child … mind you, it would have to be a very young child – they’re growing up a lot more quickly these days 🙂

  3. Hi Mary,
    2 thoughts about Sedona (responding to this post and the next):
    – I’m pretty sure the main street and the strip malls were the same 20 years ago, you just didn’t notice them because you were astounded by all the red surrounding it; and
    – that red and Sedona’s natural beauty haven’t changed at all, they are still just as grand as they were 20 (and even 20,000) years ago 🙂

    1. nah, Peter. Yes to the rock and the red, but definitely no to the strip malls. There were no suburbs 20 years ago… am sure of it… and not nearly so many boardwalks and shops.

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6 responses

  1. Oh Mary… what a way you have with words. You are an artist brushing a canvas asking the reader to reflect. Specifically….”memory, time, distance make things bigger, sadly perfect, grander, more amazing…..” “Few, if any memories ever stay true to what actually happened, each one coloured by the prism of the experiences and perspectives that followed.” I treasure my memories (the ones that are still ‘etched’ in the grey matter) and look forward to creating more . Maybe making them bigger and more (sadly) perfect etc. is what we need to keep the adventure going.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, Donna. Yet somehow I can’t help but think of how much time we spend in the past and the future and ignore the present because it isn’t as perfect as the past we remember or the future we hope for.

  2. As ever Mary a beautiful view through your eyes of what the world has to offer. My first thought was about the Christmas tree that looked so huge when i was young, but later on in life it was just a little tree, obviously I had grown a few inches.
    As for memories and them being more ‘perfect’ as we age – why not? At the end of the day we reflect on our memories and normally they are happy memories. Maybe they were so perfect at the time, but as we age we raise our expectations. We no longer see with the eyes of a child, but with the eyes of an adult. Unfortunately of course 🙂
    God bless

    1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if technology could figure out a way to let us look at life again through the eyes of a child … mind you, it would have to be a very young child – they’re growing up a lot more quickly these days 🙂

  3. Hi Mary,
    2 thoughts about Sedona (responding to this post and the next):
    – I’m pretty sure the main street and the strip malls were the same 20 years ago, you just didn’t notice them because you were astounded by all the red surrounding it; and
    – that red and Sedona’s natural beauty haven’t changed at all, they are still just as grand as they were 20 (and even 20,000) years ago 🙂

    1. nah, Peter. Yes to the rock and the red, but definitely no to the strip malls. There were no suburbs 20 years ago… am sure of it… and not nearly so many boardwalks and shops.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.