Things I Know 106 of 365: I’m small.

It’s like trying to describe what you feel when you’re standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon or remembering your first love or the birth of your child. You have to be there to really know what it’s like.

-Jack Schmitt

I have to write today’s post ahead of time because we’re at the Grand Canyon and I wouldn’t be online even if I could find a connection. What follows is educated conjecture.

When they woke up this morning, my students were sore and more refreshed than after most other nights’ sleep they’ve had.

Some of them struggled to sleep without the noise of the city act as a lullaby. They all learned the warnings from last year’s river trippers were true and I do have just as much energy in the morning as I do throughout the rest of the day.

Then, later in the day, they stepped up to the rim of the Grand Canyon and saw something bigger and more beautiful than anything else they’ve ever seen before. Some were stunned to silence. Others couldn’t stop commenting. Everyone knew the trip was worth it.

The first time I saw the Grand Canyon was my junior year of college.

My friend Dave and I drove straight through from Illinois over Spring Break. We arrived at the rim in the afternoon. From the parking lot we came out of a pine stand and there it was.

I felt immensely small and powerfully connected at the same time.

When I called home to tell my family we’d made it, words failed me.

“Wow,” I said over and over again. “It’s just, just…wow…”

Later that night, I found the words or better understood the urge that overcame me as I stood on the rim. I wanted to touch every part of everything I could see all at the same time.

I could comprehend what was in front of me – the forces, time and elements at play – but the sum of it transcended.

I needed that moment. I needed to feel small and young and connected at the same time.

If my guess is correct, today, somewhere in their understanding of themselves, my students had to start weaving in an understanding of the earth.


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