Meandering of the mind during house arrest, Part-2

“The most excellent jihad is that for the conquest of self.” — Colum McCann, Apeirogon

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” — Rumi

“Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.” — Agnes Martin

There are many ways to quiet down the mind at times of fear and high anxiety; some are destructive in the long run. Of those that are not, I am always drawn into making art, working with my hands, and letting the mind be in the zone. There are days that it feels like being in the flow; on other days, it’s all about holding it together, like a cork in a bottle, gripping tight all that I don’t want to crack open or simply cannot, because often I don’t know what I am feeling until days, weeks or years later. …


1. NO ONE IS COMPLETELY SURE ABOUT THE AGE OF THE GRAND CANYON

It was long believed that the Colorado River started carving out the canyon six million years ago. Recent mineral studies within the canyon have shown this process may have begun 70 million years ago.

What makes answering a seemingly simple question so difficult? The Grand Canyon may not have been carved in one fell swoop by the Colorado River. …


The Grand Canyon is a place that no picture can ever fully capture its size. Even while you’re standing at the top staring down, you can’t discern how far away the bottom is. You can view the canyon from the south or north rims; both are breathtaking. The north rim’s elevation is 1000 ft (300 m) higher, but the south rim is the more popular side. When viewing the canyon from the south, the sun will be at your back, making it favorable for photography. Four trails lead down to the river from the south rim and one from the north rim. You can choose how far down to go before making the turn; no permits are required. However, if you wish to go all the way down and camp overnight before proceeding back, a permit is required.


Imagine, it’s 1895, Peter Berry is riding a dark brown mule up a trail. The curvy and narrow path connects a mine by Horseshoe Mesa, at the bottom of the canyon, and Grandview, where Pete built a house and an operational center on the south rim. He named it Grandview, a fitting name for the big vistas and panoramic views. Sun rays shine through the clouds to light up the Grand Canyon’s north rim, far on the opposite side. It’s a thick sunny day, and the silence is endless. Pete’s eyes are gazing at the scenery’s beauty; he is never tired of it. The canyon is a range of purple and orange shades extending into the horizon and anchored by the vivid blue Colorado River. Pete and his fellow partners named the mine Last Chance Mine. “We did a good job!” he thinks to himself, filled with pride, “we did it just by the book.” “We built this trail, 3-miles long, the finest in the Grand Canyon.” Indeed, things worked out well for Pete and his fellow miners, Ralph and Niles Cameron. They began making long trips to the Grand Canyon in 1888, prospecting for valuable minerals. After the hard ten-hour horse ride from Flagstaff, their quest would last weeks, sometimes months of non-stop searching. In 1890 they located a rich vein of copper on Horseshoe Mesa. They proceeded to register their claim, quickly built the trail, and started excavation. And ‘boy’ it paid off! The ore’s quality was very high, 15–30% clean copper. …


1. THE OLDEST HUMAN ARTIFACTS FOUND IN THE GRAND CANYON ARE 12,000 YEARS OLD

The oldest man-made objects found in the Grand Canyon are nearly 12,000 years old and date to the Paleo-Indian period. Hundreds of split-twig figurines have been discovered in the canyon walls, shaped like deer and bighorn sheep. Anthropologists believe that prehistoric hunters used these in religious rituals.

2. THE HOPI TRIBE CONSIDERS THE GRAND CANYON A GATEWAY TO THE AFTERLIFE

Referred to as Öngtupqa in the Hopi language, the Grand Canyon carries great spiritual significance for the Native American tribe that has long inhabited the region. Upon death, a Hopi is believed to pass westward through the sipapuni, or “place of emergence” — a dome of mineral deposits that sit upstream from the Colorado River’s union with the Little Colorado River inside the canyon — on his or her journey into the afterlife. …


What are the benefits of soaking in natural hot springs?

“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

Even at the best of times, traveling can cause anxiety, and it’s undoubtedly challenging during COVID time. It’s a bizarre and adverse moment in our history, and we are doing our best to rise above. The surge in the number of cases during Thanksgiving week in November 2020 engulfed us in a different cloud of fear, doubt, and anxiety. It affected our scheduled excursion, or as I like to call it, our pilgrimage to Tecopa Hot Springs and Death Valley. The original plan was for three generations of our family to be present; we ended up with two. The older generation opted to stay safely under house arrest. We got COVID tested, stocked up on food, and made the intention to keep a proper social distance. Everything was fine! We did not venture out from Delight’s Hot Spring Resort, our new pad in Tecopa. Our time was spent between soaking in hot mineral water and the room. It was relaxing and bodily healing to sit in the pool surrounded by the beige, brown, and white desert colors. …


Where is Kunzum La Pass?

Travel Route: Lahaul Valley — Losar — Kunzum La Pass — Chandratal Lake — Parvati Valley — Tosh — Rishikesh

Lahaul Valley, Losar, and Kunzum La Pass

The people of Spiti Valley are incredibly hospitable and friendly. We have often been invited to share a cup of tea, a meal, and smoke on our walks. But the most animated conversations we experience are with fellow Israelis, young or not so young. Tomer enjoys practicing his Hebrew. The percentage of Israeli travelers in this region, among the total number of international tourists is probably 80%. …


Mudd is a remote village on the Kinnaur — Spiti travel route

Travel Route: Ki Monastery — Kibber — Mudd

Ki Monastery

We arrived at Ki Monastery on a special day and had front-row seats at a world-renowned festival performance, to which photographers worldwide make special plans to attend. The costumes and the festive spirit were fantastic. I admit that next to the heavy-duty cameras, I had a momentary feeling of inadequacy in a crowd of professional photographers since I was using a phone’s camera only, but I let it go.

The repetition of the mantra ‘om mani padme hum’ (translated, ‘Behold the Jewel is in the Lotus’) is said to bring good fortune and wash away all sins. …


What is the meaning of the name Spiti Valley?

Travel Route: Dhankar — Kaza — Langza — Hikkim — Komic

Dhankar

Dhankar is a fort village, perched high over the intersection between Spiti and Pin Valleys. At the top of the hill, we found a great spot to meditate.

Dhankar, Spiti Valley
Dhankar, Spiti Valley
Dhankar, Spiti Valley

Kaza, the capital of Spiti Valley

The word ‘Spiti’ means the ‘middle country’ — a name given for its location between India and Tibet. Spiti Valley is a high-altitude desert, bare, rugged, and inhospitable. It has been only about 20 years since foreigners were allowed permits to visit Spiti Valley. The government allocates priorities and allows major subsides to the Valley. As it is often the case, locals are ambivalent about the changes. On the one hand, a desire to advance their life’s quality and on the other hand, they want to maintain their environment and old-style way of life. …


Where is the Hindustan — Tibet Road?

Travel Route: Hindustan — Tibet Road — Nako — Tabo

Hindustan — Tibet Road

The famous Hindustan — Tibet Road is an unending sequence of plunging landscapes. The Lonely Planet called it ‘one of Asia’s great and most challenging road trips.’ Initially constructed in the 19th century by the British to connect India and Tibet. Yet the road is still unfinished. It’s a challenge for me to stop my head’s critical voice about the road’s unfinished state. I am deeply grateful when my observer-self sees my noisy brain criticizing the road’s incomplete conditions and tells it gently to quiet down. It reminds me to get back into the present moment, which will never happen again. …

About

David Gev

David’s writings are self-reflections of an Israeli living in Los Angeles since 1987, through the lens of art, travel & culture. https://davidgev.com/biography/

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