It Echoes Through Your Being, Like Your Voice In A West Texas Canyon

It was an idea born out of restlessness and a fear of being stuck at home, doing nothing. Adrian and I wanted a road trip: we wanted to see something beautiful. I longed to see mountains, because in North Texas, the land is quite flat and quite the same for miles in every direction.

We had heard people talk about Marfa, a sort of Mecca for art, a home to many artists looking for sparks of creativity that only the desert can inspire, and a small town of 2,121 people. So, we drove west to Marfa, Texas to see what all the hype was about. Starting before sunrise and stopping on the side of the almost empty highway to watch it float above the horizon and see the moon slowly sink on the other side of the sky.

rsz_img_5670Photo Courtesy of Karoline Meador

When we arrived in Marfa we checked into our hotel, an eccentric and friendly place called El Cosmico that offers different forms of shelter such as teepees, safari tents, yurts, and retro trailers. We stayed in the safari tent. It was quaint and cozy but inexplicably cold when the sun went down. Our first few hours in Marfa we went to the courthouse and climbed the stairs to a circular room at the top with windows all around and a 360-degree view of Marfa – the distant folded, wrinkled, rising land.

We checked into our tent and took a break in the hammocks. The afternoon was a warm 65 degrees. The breeze was cool and the sun was warm, and we stripped our outer layers to feel the light on our skin.

When the sun began to get low in the sky, we drove thirty minutes out of Marfa, past Valentine, Texas to see a Prada in the middle of the desert. It is a fake Prada – a piece of art designed and constructed by Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. Although it is a bit run down and starting to wear, the building is a beautiful statement and stark contrast to the landscape that surrounds it. With land stretching out flat and then climbing into mountains around it, Adrian and I felt that we’d find no better place to watch the sunset. So we pulled the car around to the back of the building and sat down on the pavement to watch the show.

rsz_img_5737Photo Courtesy of Karoline Meador

At first, it seemed subtle, like the sun would quietly set and then, all at once the sky began to change color, turning into a fiery orange and yellow glow in the western sky. For some reason, I believed that the beauty of the sunset lie only in the west, but turning to the east there was a pastel purple glow smeared in the backdrop of Mount Livermore. It was quiet, still, and light fell everywhere, bringing the sky to meet the ground. We stayed as the sky shifted colors from blue to red, flickering like a fire with soft, cool violets blushing in the east.

Beauty overwhelmed me. Beauty overcame any worry that circled my mind before.

rsz_img_5755Photo Courtesy of Karoline Meador

When humans began building cities with tall buildings blocking the sky, I think they began to hold on to their angers and worries. Watching the sky like this, it’s easy to let go of anything that hurts you. You feel it deeply and then you forget it, wrapped up in the beauty of the moment. It echoes through your being, like your voice in a west Texas canyon. It grows like a chorus, a perfectly orchestrated symphony. And it happens everyday. Every single day the earth tips in one direction, letting the sun’s light spill over it, letting the mountains make shadows and the atmosphere reflect and bend light into intangible beauty. It looks as though you could climb the mountain and be inside the light, stay there and touch it, feel it’s warm closer to your body. But like the moon, no matter how close you try to get, it always looks the same distance away. You can’t grab it – you can’t fold up the light and put it in your pocket, and you can’t retain its warmth forever.

The beauty in this phenomenon seems fleeting, but we know the same will happen in the morning. It will be a different way, the light and clouds and sky will never bend in the same way. But the beauty will be present and if you can find a way to be present as well, you will feel the profound importance of witnessing the earth’s infallible natural grace.