Sierra shows Truth of Life
Power is perceived and is something bestowed, but doesn’t actually exist as an independent thing.
Money is imaginary, too. Special paper in exchange for items. Or subtract some imaginary digits from the screen I’m looking at, and then add the same number to the screen you’re looking at, and then I can take home my hula hoop and my poppy seed and my frozen burritos and a new pillow and everybody’s happy.
Time isn’t real, either. Created only to mark events. So we know when to expect the arrival of the train. When everyone should take a break to eat lunch. When we should wake up. A way to figure out what time of year everyone should eat cake for you at work.
But we made it all up. Time slows considerably when you lie on the grass under a tree. When you’re in bed with a cold. Or just before you run your truck into a light pole on I-80. It’s unbearably long at the DMV or as a walk-in with your dog at the animal hospital or when you’re almost — but not quite yet — retired.
Power, money, time. It’s all human creation. Collective acceptance of the perception of order.
But when you listen to the ice melt onto the rocks. Bear crashing through the forest. Fish jumping on the glass of the pond. Quaking aspen wiggling around.
When you see the sun fade from orange to red to gray to night over our beloved Sierra. When you lie on the ground and stare at the sky and the forest forms a circle above your head and the branches get all bendy in the wind. The fresh starlight on a crisp fall night. The clouds, pregnant with evaporation, billowing a million feet high on a blistering afternoon. Watching the morning doves hatch in the rosebush. How you feel when two of them die.
When you smell the ozone. Water droplets patterned, yet random, on hot clay. You close your eyes and hold your hands to the sky to touch the rain, so rare and precious and appreciated. You breathe in the aroma of Nevada sage, thick with memories.
These are the true drumbeat of the Earth. The tangible richness of the pine forest. The strength of nature, eroding and reclaiming untended roads and sidewalks. The power of the desert wind, laying fences to rest and pitting windshields and making us long to shave our heads. The movement of blood in our veins. The sorrow and joy, the struggle and triumph. The genuine markers of life.
When you’re old, you will not tell the story of imaginary things created by man. You will tell of your relationship with the earth. With the universe. What you’ve touched and seen and smelled and felt. Squishing rich garden dirt in your hands and letting the sand from the trails sift right through. Stepping over waterlogged worms on your driveway after a storm. Sweating through your shirt again, and the blistery sunburn you get every year on the tops of your ears. The brilliant clear water of Tahoe always doing its Saturday-morning beckoning. Waiting for the snow to finally melt off Peavine so you can plant your tomatoes.
You will tell the bittersweet and delicious Truth of Life.
Jodie Gullickson is almost a native Nevadan. She enjoys outdoor stuff, adventuring, and drinking beer. She lives in Reno with her husband and three fur-kids.