I learned something new about myself last week when I was hiking along the Havasu Creek. I learned that I have no fear of the unknown – if I don’t know anything about it, how can I be afraid? All I can do is go along with it and trust God and my husband’s leading. However, I am afraid of the known. If something I did in the past scared me or made me uncomfortable, I prefer to leave it in the past. Last year, day 2 of our hiking adventure in Supai was a thrilling adventure. I conquered so many fears and accomplished both the longest and craziest hike I had ever done. This year? I couldn’t even make myself climb down the canyon wall to take in Mooney Falls from the ground level. I guess calling this a “once in a lifetime adventure” last year wasn’t just because I thought we’d never come back – it was because I didn’t want to relive that hike. I didn’t want to risk my life over and over for the sake of having a great adventure and hiking 20 miles round trip to the Colorado river and back. I’m okay with having done it once in my life just to say I did.
That brings me to another thing I have learned about myself. I learned that my favorite place to go is where I’ve never been. The unknown is so exciting, there is so much out there that I haven’t seen and I’m dying to discover it. While we’re able to get out and enjoy nearby places every day, we have limited opportunities to travel and see more of the world – so even though I know the waterfalls of Supai are some of the most beautiful things I have ever laid eyes on, I’d rather take the risk to go somewhere new. I love so many of the places we’ve been and seen and hiked in here in Arizona; however, if we had to live here for the rest of our lives, I would feel like I’m missing out of the rest of the world. To me, that’s one of the most appealing things of living the Military Life: getting to go and live in different cities, states, and parts of the country.
So why would return to a place that we felt we had seen “to the maximum” – where we had hiked on every marked (and even unmarked) trail? Our main reasons were because we wanted to spend one of our last weekends in the Grand Canyon state with the people we love, in a place we love, and doing something we enjoy. This time though, when we returned, we came with a completely different mindset. We didn’t want to hike the farthest and spend every waking moment on the trail. We wanted to take time to appreciate the beauty of the canyon, the waterfalls, and precious time together. And if looking over the edge of Mooney Falls wasn’t enough to convince me I didn’t want to go further, the dreary forecast for the day did me in. While the forecasted snow and rain never came (besides a little drizzle here and there), the temperatures were still cold with a chilly breeze. We decided to be content with sitting around and enjoying the beauty of the falls, and wandering around, discovering little side trails that led to nowhere – but were exciting because we had never hiked on them before.
Okay, I should clarify that I’m the wimp. If he had wanted to, Curtis would have hiked the entire thing all over again, just because it was something to do and he loves to be occupied. But because he loves me and actually likes to be with me, he stayed at the top of the falls with me and watched as the others in our hiking group descended the canyon wall and set off on the trail past Mooney. (We actually took a cool video of them climbing down – stay tuned for that, coming soon to our Youtube channel!) Then, we wandered aimlessly around the campground, and followed the creek back toward the village. We found a random side trail between Havasu Falls and Little Navajo Falls that descended to the river side, followed the water upstream a bit, then ended abruptly. Our guess is that it once led all the way to Navajo Falls, but flooding in 2008 or earlier had wiped out the trail.
My favorite moments of this whole trip were when we had Havasu Falls all to ourselves for a couple hours that cold Monday morning. We wandered around the large pool at the base and took it in from all different angles. I worked on improving my waterfall photography skills. Curtis checked out the small caves and hung out on fallen logs sticking out over the creek. We sat at the picnic bench together and ate too many cookies while watching the water fall. We went between watching the water crash down Havasu Falls to watching it fall quietly and peacefully down a cascade of smaller falls after it. Curtis said that was his favorite part about the falls – the smaller cascading sets of falls. I enjoy them too, but I know Supai wouldn’t be the same without the tall and gorgeous waterfalls that so many people hike to see.
I thought about how life is kinda like that too. There are the big exciting things that happen in life – new life, marriage, great accomplishments – all of these make up for some of life’s greatest moments and memories we’ll cherish forever. Just as Havasu Falls will always be one of my favorite sights to behold, my wedding day will always be one of the best days of my life. But most of life isn’t about those big events. The little everyday moments, good and bad, are what life is made up of. Most days, life is about making the most of those every day moments and cherishing every one of them as a gift from God. He’s given us every moment as a gift, and we need to learn to be good stewards of that time and seek out what He has called us to do. I’m the type of person that’s always looking forward to the next big event, our upcoming great adventure. But if I don’t stop and pay attention, I could miss the little moments of every day life that I’m given. Just as God created the mighty Mooney Falls, so He also made the small cascading ripples, and He made them beautiful. I want to learn to be content with every passing moment, and to take the time to appreciate every cascading fall, no matter how small.
Earlier this year, my dad shared the following quote from C.S. Lewis. When I first read it, I didn’t really get it. It was right after we had hiked the Grand Canyon – in the “simpler days” when Curtis was still in college, before being commissioned by the US Navy. Our whole life was one thrill after another, so I was almost reluctant after reading it – I didn’t want to give up this exciting life we had. But as I think over all I’ve learned in this new season of life, it makes so much more sense. If I’m always looking forward to life’s next exciting event or our next thrilling adventure, I’ll grow more and more discontent with the every day moments that life is made of, and forget to appreciate the work God is doing around me in my every day life.
“It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go–let it die away–go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow–and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all round them.”
–C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity
I’m thankful that Supai wasn’t a once in a lifetime experience for me. If we hadn’t taken the opportunity to revisit, I could have missed some of these life lessons learned through doing the same hike twice. I am thankful to have gained a new perspective on life, contentment, and cherishing every moment I have.