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Dateline: Saint George—When Nature Can’t Nurture

Courtesy of John Taylor

As day breaks, I take a brisk walk. I open the corral and let my imagination gallop.I awaken, surrounded by thousands of acres of desert, hills, and mountains. But I still cannot find the “great outdoors.”

Sometimes lyrics and song titles kick in. Hello, darkness my old friend. Silent Lucidity. Amazing Grace. OM, OM.

On the horizon are shrouded mesas—magic makers for my mind.

The sagebrush is quiet. But I know it’s teeming with sleeping, stirring, skulking, slithering, snapping and stinging things.

I am a sponge. But, even this early, everyone else is an open fire hydrant.

My nose is engulfed by hash browns and fabric softeners.

Joggers and bikers whip by, some with music blaring from their earbuds. Their headlamps would be the envy of Welsh coal miners.

I grew up in New York City where the wilderness was an empty subway tunnel, between spurts of trains. New York, of course, is where personal space is allocated based on the size of your wallet.

As a society, we rush to fill every emptiness. I guess we fear cleansing and being refreshed.

I can’t understand how RVs parked next to RVs can be blessed as “enjoying nature and the great outdoors.”

That RV experience sounds like a Homer Simpson theme park—beer, babies, boomboxes, and bad behavior. 

I would rather quietly step back to wonder whether rustling in the scrubs is a lizard, a fox, or just a mystery.

I would rather watch in quiet awe as sunrise unveils the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, the petroglyphs and the lairs of dinosaurs.

Think about it.  We now have a dark mode for our smart phones to provide physical comfort and to preserve our batteries.  Essentially, we “go dark” to improve our well-being. 

The Greeks used a word— ataraxy—to describe a state of robust tranquility free of distress and worry.

When it comes to distractions, Southwest Utah sits somewhere between a bombastic Chevy Chase vacation movie and mystics playing sitars while chanting mantras.

I still take my daily walks, sidestepping civilization best I can, happy for fleeting encounters with that endangered species called nature.