For approximately the last month I have been blogging about healing in a round-about fashion. I haven’t mentioned specific incidents; however, some of you know about (a) what prompted the healing process, and (b) the events surrounding the need to heal. This past week, a whole different process was taking place in my life, pushing the previous healing journey to the back of my mind (even if only momentarily). For the last seven days, I have been hearing a near constant chatter about people who have died and/or people who have lost everything.
Most of you know that I’m from Joplin, Missouri. If you didn’t know that, now you do! Joplin, if you have somehow been living in a cave this past week and didn’t know this, is the city in Missouri that basically just got wiped off the map. Something like 75% of the city is gone because of one of the ten largest tornadoes that the world has ever seen. My family is fine (albeit without electricity, like the majority of the rest of the city), but I have gotten news that many people I know have died…and of these “many,” a fair percentage of them from the piano competition circuit, the extracurricular activity in which I grew up. This is the incident that made me push off my previous healing process in order to grieve about something much larger than me.
Many people in Joplin are now without homes and living in relief shelters. Many of them have no job left, due to the fact that their job location is now gone. A large percentage of the city has just disappeared. If you look at the pictures online, it looks like a bomb went off in a war zone. Being 800 miles away, I have felt somewhat helpless when it comes to assisting with the devastation of my home town.
Enter New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment. In New Mexico, I love to be outside. This would have never happened when I lived in the midwest, as the humidity made it absolutely miserable to exist outside of four walls, a roof, and an air conditioner. On the lower humidity days, it was around 2000%. Here, however, I absolutely love it outside. This past Thursday evening I went out to have drinks with a couple people, and two of us were discussing an upcoming hiking trip that we have planned to Bandelier National Monument on Memorial Day. The third person informed me that hiking and being outside were one of the best things to do through the healing process. I can’t help but think about how funny it is that I have changed into this person who likes to hike…but for now, I’ll just go with it.
After our drinks that evening, I sat down and really thought about it. The funny thing isn’t necessarily that I now like to hike; rather, the funny thing is how much the landscape has shaped my new life here in Santa Fe. The weather, the mountains, the desert, the lack of people…all of these things have changed how I live. If you haven’t experienced life in the high desert, it is hard to explain. The best way I can think of is as follows:
It is a spiritual experience just to exist here.
So in just a few hours, we will be leaving Santa Fe and heading to the Jemez Mountains near Los Alamos to hike Bandelier. After the initial shock of last week’s tornado has died down, I think I am finally ready to go outside and begin to grieve.