Sunday, February 05, 2006

Oceans to Mountains

A few summers ago, Don and I went to Colorado on vacation. We planned it oh so carefully, as we do each trip we take. Months and months with the brochures and AAA Tour Guide books and Internet sites so we can get a good look at where we're headed. There's only a week, and we are known to pack a hell of a lot of sightseeing in that week.

No sitting around a hotel room or enjoying the spa or the pool for us. We are up at 7, having breakfast by 9 and in the car by 10 AM, heading toward new worlds. We have been known to take a six-day trip and stay in five different settings on that trip. Neither one of us will die saying we wish we had seen Leadville, Colorado, or Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon. If we're near it, we'll be seeing it.

The second trip we made to Colorado, we went to Garden of the Gods which isn't far from the famous Pike's Peak. We went to the Visitor's Center there and sat in on some lectures about the geology of the area...and then the instructor said the words that have echoed in my head for the last ten years: We are such a drop in the bucket with our 100 years of life on this planet. You're looking at mountains that used to be the ocean floor before the water receded to leave them towering thousands of feet in the air. You're looking at millions of years, and you think your life is long? A hundred years? Or less? MILLIONS and MILLIONS of years!

When I think about that, it boggles my mind. When I drive to the top of Pike's Peak, I'm not even sticking my head above the water that once covered that massive mountain! And when I think of living 100 years or less, it's like I see someone holding their wet hand above the basin of water and letting one little drop splash on the surface. I'm a little drop of water in the big sea.

Sometimes that frightens me a little bit, sometimes it thrills me.

When I stand on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and squint to see as far as the horizon will allow, I'm watching a time lapse documentary of the water slowly receding, and I know that miles below the surface of the briny sea are mountains as fantastic as the Rockies or the Sierra Nevadas or the Smoky Mountains. I know that there are peaks that will be snow-covered in a million more years, most likely, and still there will be plenty of ocean, and another million years will pass and there might be a new peak, but still plenty of ocean.

The oceans breed the mountains. What a comforting thought!

1 comment:

Tracy said...

Oh, see, you don't just live near the ocean after all. You live at the bottom of it!