solo travel

Desert Bloom

This post was made one year ago today, never published, about my 2017 road trip through the desert which culminated in my zine The End of August. Here it is now:

The lynx spends an incredible amount of time in solitude. She is quiet, often unseen, but sees all. Just as a star disappears as soon as it catches your eye, the lynx appears only when our seeking ceases. 

Coming into Southwestern Utah, huge clouds of smoke hung heavy and deep in the sky over the Dixie National Forest. The black sky grew thicker still through our entire stay near Bryce Canyon, creating an ominous backdrop for all of our inner musings. She is a mirror, this earth, and she reflects back to us our deepest longings and every personal truth. This I have always trusted, but she was about to reveal herself to me even more deeply.

On the evening of the summer solstice, my new friend Molly and I met up with the Light Grey Art Lab team to settle into what would be our new home for the next four nights. A beautiful cabin on a farm, complete with what looked like hand-hewn beams and quintessential barn cats. Mornings spent with breakfast on the porch and quiet reflection, and evenings spent the same. 

One of these evenings, after a long day spent horseback riding and trekking through the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, I sat on the porch as I had each previous evening to share conversation and stare upward. At some point late into the night, the sky grew darker and the blanket of night cloaked our shoulders. The power had inexplicably gone out on the whole block.

I got up and stood in the middle of the grass, nearly tumbling backward to stare at the millions of stars glittering across the black void of the sky. I placed my hand gingerly on the ground beneath me, checking for spiders and the dew that collects when the night turns to early morning. I lowered myself as if to sleep.

A million dead stars streaking across the sky in such great numbers that it was dizzying. A million tumbling stars that mirrored the falling ashes at our feet from the forest fire during the day. The haze of the fire that coated the daylight hours suddenly faded, making way for a clarity that was so striking, like seeing a natural spring for the very first time. Reaching for the reflection in the mirror before me, seeing myself for the first time. Hearing my own echo across the chasm, bouncing off of the spires of the hoodoos and washing the canyon in whispers. I was revealed to myself, coming up for air, opening my eyes to the light. The Milky Way speckled the atmosphere and rained wisdom onto the ground beneath me. I'm alive, alive, alive.

In the tarot the Hanged Man is seen as the point in the fool's journey where he surrenders to change. He is feeling stuck and needs to release his control. This night beneath the stars was my own surrender. I awoke the next morning new to myself. Fresh in my own skin, eyes gleaming with the dew of youth and newness and, paradoxically, with the depth and wisdom of intuition. My path was laid out before me, clear as a line of rich black ink.

I cannot unsee this path. I cannot unsee this beauty, the lynx that lives inside of me. I would never want to. She reveals what has always been, what has occupied the deepest parts of my spirit, longing to be free. This fierce heart of mine, it has often been squelched and silenced for shame or fear of lost control. But there is a fire in this heart and once ignited it burns, burns, burns, like the Dixie National Forest this June, like the heat of the summer sun. It offers renewal and infinite support, for others but also for myself.

At many points throughout this journey, I felt release. I let go of all that I had been holding on to, for better or worse, and allowed myself to open, to unravel like the delicate ribbon carefully tied around a secret package. And then finally, the answers came. The Hanged Man. The lynx. The desert bloom.

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To purchase my zine The End of August about my solo road trip through the desert, visit the shop.