I had performances scheduled in Silver City, NM for the weekend after the election so I headed down that way mid-day on Friday. After a satisfying performance that night, I retired to my motel and got some sleep. On Saturday, I had time on my hands so I decided to drive south from Silver City to check out City of Rocks State Park. It turned out to be a great move. The park consists of a large rock formation made up by many boulders of various sizes and shapes. If you close one eye and squint with the other one (and maybe have a couple of shots of tequila), it definitely looks like a “city” (see above).
The information about the place says that almost 35 million years ago, there were several massive volcanic upheavals that covered the area with volcanic ash. This hardened into a thick layer of rock that essentially left the area a vast wasteland. The rock was porous however and over time, the wind, water and extremes in temperature caused cracks. The cracks eroded and widened, resulting in the development of many individual rocks standing side by side. Before you know it…well okay, it took 35 million years…we have a “city of rocks.” The process is ongoing (I looked close but I couldn’t see it happening) and they say that in just a few million more years, the rocks may erode away completely, leaving a flat plain once again.
It occurred to me that in the context of 35 million years of changes, what happened in the past week, political and otherwise, is pretty insignificant. Humans have been around for what seems like a long time and yet it’s hardly a blip on the timeline of the universe. More than 8,000 years ago, which is sort of “just the other day” in universe time, nomadic tribes lived in this area. They gathered fruits and nuts and they hunted antelope. I saw some of their descendants (the antelope, not the nomads) and wondered if they knew or cared who was governor of New Mexico. As far as I could tell, they didn’t.
I decided to take a hike (a number of people had been advising me to do this for quite some time). After walking for a pretty good ways, I found a nice flat rock looking out towards the southwest. I could see for miles (“and miles and miles and miles and miles,” to quote the Who). I sat down and pondered what I’d read on the sign at the trailhead. Seems the whole area is part of the Great Chihuahuan Desert which covers more than 200,000 square miles from Southwest New Mexico down to Mexico City. It’s a vast area, the largest desert on the North American continent (see below). Kind of makes you feel humble and insignificant, in a good way. After sitting there for a while, I felt a lot better. Insignificant and humble but better.
In a little while, I headed on back to Silver City. I’d spotted a local micro-brewery, Little Toad Creek, and figured I would continue on my quest to sample every beer known to mankind (except for the IPAs…WAY too bitter!). Their Little Toad Amber was excellent (see below). I felt like the afternoon excursion…and certainly the beer…helped me regain my perspective and balance (well, okay, beer doesn’t generally help with your balance; I was speaking metaphysically). I’d realized that what happens in a day or week or year in my life time is really nothing in the big scheme of things. 35 million years- now that’s a LONG time! Things change dramatically during that time but at any given moment, it’s extremely hard to actually see and evaluate that change. And 200,000 square miles is a LOT of land. It’s vast. Politics, on the other hand, is half-vast.