They crowd the trails and the buses from dawn till after sunset. They swarm the overlooks and the Visitor Center. Listen and you'll hear languages from all over Europe and East Asia, voices from the Middle East, central Asia, South America, some from Africa and Australia. There are the rich and powerful, relaxed in T-shirt and oh-so-tight shorts, in disguise except for the hotel they stay in. Then there are the not-so-rich, also in T-shirt - with baggy shorts. Ordinary people from all walks of life pour off buses in a never-ending torrent, listen to tour guides, wave selfie sticks, climb back on. They all have something in common, though, the impulse that drew them here.
While here they become part of a temporary human tribe within which everyone is equal, where each stands on the rim of eternity, alone and insignificant. This equality is perhaps not given the credit it deserves. This kind of place, like a walking path where no bicycles are permitted, allows us to treat each other respectfully. We see each other as similar, downplay our differences.
I'm not saying that a profound effect is the inevitable result of visiting the Grand Canyon, at least for most people. In fact, they can't even describe what it was that brought them here. Though they may believe that it all goes over their heads, something of eternity will stick, like a burr on a sock, to be carried away and perhaps sprout someplace else.
Maybe the impulse is just to see something so colossal that it's untouched by man and his works. A place that appears to us implacable, unaffected by all our striving. Is that why we love to live by the sea? Is that why we want to look from a mountain up into the night sky? There's a stillness and peace that these sights bring us. We are somehow inspired by our insignificance. Few places on Earth provide this kind of unsettling perspective. I'd like to try the space station - another place that humans return from a little bit changed.
For some, the glimpse into eternity rings as a challenge. One may interpret it as a chance to conquer nature in a physical way. Another may dive into geology as never before;to him the challenge is to understand. Just looking, one cannot grasp the totality of the scene. Looking provides no answers, just questions.
With smiling faces as multi-hued as the Canyon itself, they come, from many nations and many faiths. About half the visitors, walking up to the Grand Canyon rim for the first time, say "oh, my God." Interesting choice of words.
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This blog is meant to encourage awareness and thoughtfulness about the Grand Canyon, one of our most precious resources. It is not merely a story of what happens or has happened here, not a cookbook for what you should make of it yourself, but more an example of the many-faceted inspiration the Canyon nurtures in an artist, perhaps in you. Indeed, inspiration may be the Canyon's greatest resource. These words are sincere, my own take on this world, deliberately non-academic and directed toward users of social media. In no way does it represent the policies or opinions of the National Park Service, although it is done under the auspices of that entity, but is offered in gratitude, with my respect and admiration for these soldiers of conservation. George H. Jacobi 2016