When lighted by the morning sun the gorgeous chasm is an immense bowl of lace and filigree work in stone, colored with the white of frost and the pinks of glowing embers. To those who have not forgotten the story books of childhood it suggests a playground for fairies. In another aspect it seems a smoldering inferno where goblins and demons might dwell among flames and embers.” – The Union Pacific System,
There are three types of people in this world: those who see the world with wonder, those who see it through the lens of cynicism, and those who see it with a bit of both.
Before I moved to Korea for the first time, I was in a dark place. I hated my job, hated the town I lived in, and — quite honestly — hated the person I saw myself becoming. I was 23, and I was drowning in cynicism.
Over the course of the next year, Korea cast a spell on me. As stress melted away, new friends grew closer, and my bitterness dissipated, I rediscovered a feeling I’d all but forgotten: wonder. I remembered what it was like to be utterly fascinated by something, and to get swept away by that fascination. Since then, I’ve tried to hang on to that sense of wonder. There have been ups and downs, but I’ve never gotten as low as that first part of 2011. Traveling has been a key factor in that change for me.
Fast forward to the spring of 2015 — my friend Brandon and I found ourselves walking the Peekaboo Loop trail around the bowl of the Amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park. Hoodoos towered around us, whittled down by incessant erosion over the ages. That day, neither of us were men in their mid-20s headed back to our 9-5s that coming Monday. That day, we were like children, gazing in wonder at the surreal landscape around us.
As the quote at the start of this post says, it seemed like a playground for fairies, a wonderland pulled from the pages of fantasy. But this, this was real.
The legend surrounding that place is dark, in stark contrast to the beauty visible for miles. It concerns the Legend People, a race who lived long before the Paiute walked the canyon floors. They were giants, and they were cruel and greedy. They ate past the point of satisfaction, took for the sake of taking, and cared nothing for the plants and animals they shared the land with. The trickster god, Coyote, saw this and took action.
He invited the Legend People to a grand feast. They came and filled the canyon with finery, decked out in beautiful clothes and striking warpaint. As they sat down to feast, Coyote put a terrible curse on them which would turn them all to stone.
But for someone who has experienced the cynicism that exists in this world, those moments of wonder are infinitely more precious.
How about you? Would you say you’re prone to wonder or cynicism? Has traveling (or something else) affected how you live your life? Let me know in the comments below!
- Hiking to Refugio Frey and Beyond - January 20, 2020
- Christmas Letter 2019 - December 18, 2019
- My Walk Out of the Woods - June 30, 2019
I can definitely relate with you here, Nathan. I too was in the hate job/life predicament before coming to Korea but am sort of excited to be returning home this time. Going abroad and seeing new things/faces has ignited a desire for me to go back and see so much of my home that was previously ignored. I credit people like you for helping keep that fire alive. Thanks for sharing this wonderful look inside along with some wonderful photos of Bryce Canyon.
Love the legend/backstory behind this. I feel like our modern world doesn’t have an imagination as clever as generations before us. Always good to retell those stories, but reading your awesome prose makes it much more enticing.
Take Care Man. Looking forward to more!
I’m glad to hear you’re excited to be heading home! I, for one, am looking forward to more of your stories, no matter which country they come from! The road trip I did this spring was so awesome — to finally see some of the iconic national parks was a dream come true. Just goes to show, you don’t have to travel to a different country to explore!
My life is filled with wonder and amazement. Travel has given me more awareness and empathy of other people in the world — knowing people in Nepal and seeing images of the destruction of historical places and villages that I’ve been to gives me a different comprehension of the damage done by the recent earthquake than if I’d never been there.Travel has made me more wanderlust.
It really makes news like that hit harder when it’s a place you’ve seen firsthand. I always enjoy seeing your posts, Ken! Thanks for reading 🙂