In the summer, I try to cut myself off from the world of politics, from newspapers and television, from events happening outside my home. It's a well-needed break for someone like me who tends to react with emotion to all the tragedy in the world. Summer, I've always thought, is a necessary time for rest and relaxation and rejuvenation. Time to connect with the landscape, time for reflection.
Fourteen days in the canyon gave me a chance to forget about all that was happening in the world: the war in Iraq, the Bush administration's continued assault on the environment, and the endless ways in which sexism, racism, and homophobia continue to dominate the culture we live in. Well, maybe I didn't completely forget about these things, but it was wonderful to spend days just hiking, rafting, and absorbing all the beauty around me. Isolated as we were, we had no way of knowing what was going on in the country or the world, no way of seeing beyond the breath-takingly beautiful landscape we were travelling through. For two weeks, I lived in a community of fifteen like-minded people, many of us wanting a break from the politics that make us angry.
It is difficult now to read about the devastation in New Orleans, to surf blogs and read about what is going on in the country. One of my favorite students from last semester, who was commissioned the day after graduation, has been training all summer and gets shipped to Iraq this week. Tonight I watched television again, the local news, to see the story about a local boy, a young man who went to high school with my niece, who was killed yesterday in Iraq. He was 23 years old. I am trying desperately to keep the peace of the canyon inside me as I listen.