I am visiting the Grand Canyon for National Park Service training at the Horace Albright Training Center. I envisioned that I would travel here and adhere to an anonymous character, one with confidence, drive, and a sense of composure. Instead, my inner turmoil has traveled many thousands of miles to accompany me on this journey. And perhaps, this was how it was meant to be.
We cannot and should not ever attempt to escape from ourselves. Attempting to hide from myself has become a regular practice over the years. I took comfort in giving myself to others who needed me, and I felt whole for periods of time; yet, my own inner demons return time and again, and this return has been with a vengeance, a reminder that I could lose myself should I ignore the need to heal my own heart and mind first and foremost. I seem to cause destruction around me and to continue to hurt those I care about most, and the only way to regain trust is to begin with the self.
My sister told me recently, “I don’t know anyone else like you”. This was a comment in response to my absent-mindedness in nearly leaving my main piece of luggage in her Seattle apartment as we were leaving for the airport. She is not the first person to tell me this, and I believe that I should take it as the highest compliment. I may be a mess, but I am all that I have and I am still very much me.
Today, we went on a journey outside of Grand Canyon National Park and visited Najavo Nation and Sunset and Wupatki National Monuments. An interpretive ranger met us and led us through the national park sites. She told us about her youth and the stories she learned from her grandmother, and she shared a story of how her people came into this world and rooted themselves in regions of this country. She told us a time when she was very young when she realized that she was a part of her people’s history, of their story. “I was made of many stories,” she said. “I am stories”.
We are in part who we believe we are and also who we believe we can be. I believe that I can become whole and learn to value myself, but I realize I have a long road ahead and that I will need to the support of friends and family on the journey. I arrived in Gustavus a wounded spirit last fall, not realizing the depth I would to fall or the people I would hurt before realizing with clarity and acuity that I must pick myself up and dust myself off. My own survival and ability to find beauty in myself depends upon it.