Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Child Remembers....

     The picture above is actually one of four beautiful waterfalls in the nation of Havasupai (located west of the Grand Canyon National Park).  That water fall is called Havasu Falls.  The essay below was written (to complete a school assignment) by my daughter as her memory of one of the most dangerous and spectacular of hikes!  I provide photos I took of that particular hike after descending and catching up with her (my wife and younger child stayed at the top).

What Goes Up Comes Down
Part A
     The Arizona sun beamed on us as my cousin and I hiked down the Havasupai Mooney Falls Trail. Being in a different country considered to be apart from the United States, Havasupai was a world foreign to me and my family. I was eight years old. At twenty, my cousin Adam was strong and independent; he was larger than life to me. I knew this hike would be worth the unprepared day.  Our clacking hiking boots echoed as we passed through some cool tunnels, and I breathed a contented sigh.  Thinking of the hike to Havasupai Indian Reservation, my pride made me a sincere conclusion that nothing dangerous could be ahead, or could it?
      Hiking Mooney Falls would be a breeze in the park compared to hiking to the Reservation. So far, so good, I thought. Maybe this isn't so treacherous after all. The end of the last tunnel, however, there was a shocking reality. 
     Before us stood the steepest hiking trail I ever saw; chains and rocks looming ahead as our guides. “I don't think I can do it,” my voice pleadingly spoke. “Come on,” Adam said, “I got you; you got this. His words did not give me ease. Looking down the cliff, I knew better than to give into something I was pressed to do by my influencing cousin, but it seemed to me I had no other choice, What could go wrong if he thought everything would be fine? I quickly gave in. Pulling myself forward gradually, my hand was consistently reaching for the next secure stone.  My heart beat faster, my body was shaking, and I felt like I would melt into the Canyon wall.  The one natural element that gave me consolation was the cold mist traveling upwards from Mooney Falls.  I could taste the fresh, crisp water from the blue and crystal Havasupai waters.  The sound of the falling water grew more powerful.
    Time was ticking and the pressure was mounting. A line of tourists formed behind me, and I was embarrassed at my lack of speed in the endeavor. My eight year old mind remembered what I had said earlier that day, Maybe we should go.  I had looked longingly at Adam for approval, but now it was too late. 
     My cousin tried to encourage me; I knew he was loving the hike, but my eyes kept being drawn down to the edge of the cliff that seemed so impossible to scale down. The despair of being abandoned to this danger made me wish I could disappear in the moment. "Look behind you!" Adam exclaimed in his most motivating tone. Turning my head, to my great relief, I saw my dad. From then on, the load that I carried within got lighter. Leading to the ending point, my steps were steady on the downward, slippery wooden ladder. At last, my feet touched the pink, rocky shore. Am I really at Mooney Falls? My eyes gazed in wonder. The scene of the waterfall was breathtaking and the same cool mist coated my hot sunburned skin. 
      I turned around to look up at the trail. The memory of having to go back clouded my mind, but a woman from the line of hikers saw my fear.   "Don't worry, she said smiling, it's much easier going up than down!" Those words encouraged me to continue the unfinished journey.  My dad smiled at me, "How did you do it?" he said in his inquisitive teacher voice, reminding me of the times he asked his physics students how they got first place in his competitions. "I just did" I answered and he laughed at my bland response. "I met a Native Havasupai man while you were hiking with Adam" my dad said.  "I asked him about Mooney Falls and wanted to know if someone your age could go down".  The native responded ˜We only allow our sons twelve and older to hike that trail".   A miner named Mooney who fell off the trail in 1882 made the Havasupai cautious in the descent. I darted to catch up to you, but then I saw a little figure climbing down the trail and I knew it was you!"

Part B
     The words of the woman who told me, "It's easier going up than down!" lifted my spirits and made me realize hiking Mooney Falls was worth the challenge. During the exhaustion of trying to accomplish it, I did not realize the purpose of what I was working to accomplish. I am seeing now that this is also true in real life situations that are complex and maybe hard for people to understand the meaning of. Even if the purpose is not seen but true wisdom is gained from the experience, the event has meaning for life. The person has not only simply followed the "plot" of a story, so called, but hopefully the mistaken event has transformed them.  In the hiking process, I was mentally exhausted, physically drained, and felt like the heat might make me collapse any minute. The only thing I had on my mind was to get it over with and stop having people breathing over me to get me going. I knew that I could not have done it alone hiking to Mooney, but I also knew that if I had not decide d to persevere myself, I would not have finished the hike.
     I realized that the journey to Mooney Falls was just as harmful as what I had assumed in the beginning, but now that it was over, I found myself enjoying the dream of reality. I was happy to have accomplished the hike despite the difficulty, and I was satisfied to have my dad present with me.  My feelings during the hike made it seem like no one would be there to help me through besides Adam.  When my cousin told me something was behind me, I was expecting another impatient tourist wanting to pass me up because I was taking up too much time and room. My dad surprised me when he came. It felt good not to be treated as just another slow tourist hiker. His hands were those of a father. He wanted me to take time and he wanted me to be safe. He did not abandon me, even if in the back of my mind I thought he did. Enjoying Mooney Falls, it was a significant knowledge for me as a child to see my dad smile at me as a proud father. I was very shy as an eight year old, and though I pretended my dad's admiration did not really make a difference, I was happy inside because it did.

     One point, however, did weigh hard on me during the hike: I thought it was going to be easy.  Such an assumption was not primary but it was still there. I didn't want to think about the physical manifestations of danger in front of me, it made it easier to dwell on what was easiest for me. As a Christian, the decisions I made helped me see God being actively part of what I experienced. I thought of the scripture in which Simon Peter speaks to Jesus of Nazareth. Peter does not want to think about his leader or himself falling into what seems to be the failure of having to suffer. "God forbid, Lord!" he said "No such thing shall ever happen to you!" In my thoughts I was saying almost the exact words  Peter said: No such thing shall ever happen to me. Jesus replies rebuking Peter, and saying,  "You are thinking not as God does but as human beings do."  I realized that wanting to rid myself of the hardship made the journey less significant than if at the pressing moment I gave myself up to the adventure of trusting.


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