Monday, August 17, 2009


At the dog park in Louisville, which has the most incredible view of the Front Range I have ever seen to be honest, I met a woman from Rhodes Island madly snapping photos. Standing on the concrete parking log she seemed to want some way to consume the horizon. I can understand. Living in Portland, Oregon, I remember feeling so relieved when I visited the Rose Garden and could finally get up above the canopy of endless trees and see as far as Mt. St. Helens. When you grow up in the west, as I did, the horizon is a given just as trees are a given in other places.

I didn't really appreciate the horizon until I couldn't see it every day, and since I returned to comfortable horizons I've given a lot of thought to what they mean to me. For me the sky and the jutting edge of the Rocky Mountains is not only about being pretty. For me, being able to see out beyond the immediate gives me a sense of the grandness of life, and of untold possibilities. The bigness of the West has to do a lot with horizons, and is often misunderstood by outsiders. The sense of distance between towns and all of the things that can happen to one on the way between here and there is just an everyday occurrence.

Where in New England one can cross several state lines in just a few hours, it can take days and days to cross the Western states. Sure it is getting more dense than it was even when I was growing up. There is more homogeneity from town-to-town than there used to be. Still a place in Wyoming is different from a place in Utah, is different from Nevada, is different from New Mexico, is different from Montana. The relationship places share out here is the sky and water concerns. Honest to pete, it is the sky that links all of the West together and otherwise we're all worried there isn't enough water.

Personally, I've always striven to keep my eyes out on the horizon in order to keep my dreams big. Sometimes this has been to the detriment of the immediate details of my life. Today I am trying to strike a balance, to attend to the necessary whilst also reaching beyond to something not quite in focus.

Every hero starts with big desires that are out of focus, like a traveler sees the horizon. There's no way to know exactly what lays between here and there until I get closer. Still in the West, as you get closer, the horizon retreats farther away sometimes, and sometimes the horizon looms over you a mountain of destiny that cannot be driven through, but rather must be mounted and ridden until it becomes the horizon behind you and before you a new expanse has opened. Just as the cycle of a story, the cycle of my life seeks that new horizon, the challenge of the mountain, the more specific details and desires to be dealt with in sequential experiences until I know that the horizon I looked at so long ago has become a newly familiar landscape that is already dropping behind me as I look forward to something out there that needs my feet on it.

The woman from Rhodes Island has a day left before she hits the airport. I wonder what horizon will draw her nearer? I wonder if she'll sense the pull of the West's horizons as something she wants, or if she'll retreat back to the trees and buildings and low gray skies of New England?

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