“It’s okay, I’ll go by myself.”
I had gone to visit my brother and the girl he was dating in Scottsdale over a long Labor day weekend. I never take long weekends. I’ve been in this constant survival mode with money and making sure my life is balanced with work and friends and experiences. Nevertheless, I drove out for a visit with the promise of red dirt.
My brother and his girlfriend had both been super sick with whatever end of the summer bug was going around, so despite doing their best, they were in the mood to stay in and rest. Besides driving through Arizona, I realized I had never really spent any time there. One of the places I’ve always wanted to visit was Cathedral Rock, one of Earth’s natural vortexes. I left early, took myself to breakfast, and set out to hike.
All I did was plug CATHEDRAL ROCK into my GPS. It took me over an hour to find the actual entrance, but that’s the thing, it’s not written down in any map. True places never are. Eventually I found parking down this long dirt path, walked the 10 minutes to get to the start of the hike. I was shocked to find that the hike itself was barely over a mile. So here we go.
The first leg of the hike was crossing this wide flat ground that was littered with puddles. The deep wet red earth was a perfect contrast to the bright blue sky with fluffy clouds. I don’t think I’ve really ever appreciated the color turquoise until that day. It’s such a bright and happy color out in nature.
Soon I reached the base. While it may be a mile hike, it’s almost all vertical. Straight on up. I can do this, I thought, as I watched a fearless child climb with ease. So up I went, one step at a time.
As I climbed I thought of all the things I had done in my life that were more difficult than this one mile hike. I thought about the day I decided to be an actor, and how it took me two years and ten auditions in my hometown before I got cast in my first play. I could have easily given up, but I kept moving forward. I thought about the decision to end my marriage, and how long it had taken me to let go. The three and a half years I spent in LA without a car. How I learned to drive on the opposite side of the road in Ireland to take myself to what is now my favorite place in the whole world. All of those things, all my good choices, my bad choices, how they all had led me here to this day.
I reached the first landing, the sky in Sedona seems to stretch out for forever. I sat for a few minutes, knowing I’d barely gotten half way there. After a few minutes of solitude, a young couple in their 20’s reached where I was. She was not happy having to have been dragged outdoors. I could only stand a few moments of their fight. She wanted to head back down, he never got to do anything he wanted. So I continued onward.
Up and up and up I climbed, slipping only once. I made it to the second landing. The sky seemed even bigger there. I could see the third landing wasn’t so far away. My gaze found the multiple hand carved stairs into the rock that would take me there. I was so close.
When I reached the top, I burst into tears. I’d never been so high up anywhere on earth. The view was simply spectacular. There’s a certain energy when you’re up that high I can’t explain. It’s like you can feel nature coursing through your veins. Like I can take off and fly out into the open air.
I sat for two hours and just enjoyed the view. Watching people come and go. Some sat for a while. Some for only a few minutes.
Finally, it was time to go, as I still had to drive home to LA.
As I came down the various landings, I reached the same couple who was still sitting on that first landing. I could tell she had cried. They must have had a huge fight. He saw me pass them.
“Did you make it to the top?” He asked.
“Yes," I replied.
“By yourself?” She asked.
“Was it worth it?”
“I dunno, you’ll have to see for yourself.”