Some thoughts from a trip to Monument Valley George reporting...
08.11.2014 - 08.11.2014 65 °F
We arrived in Monument Valley on a bright, blue glorious day. The impact of the natural wonders around us were immediate and delightful. I've probably seen several movies using this valley as a backdrop but nothing can compare to actually being here. These sacred natural monuments inspired the native peoples living there for thousands of years. It also has inspired writers, poets and moviemakers for decades and it is easy to see why. The ancient native oral tradition on the origin of the world revolves greatly around these fantastic canyons and buttes. At some point, I thought to myself, "This must have been the Garden of Eden for the world's first Storytellers".
We are staying at 'The View' hotel inside the park. The only hotel here where every single room has a balcony view of Monument Valley. Our first instinct was to open up the chilled bottle of wine and just sit out and stare for hours as the dandelion sunlight bathed these sacred natural wonders.
The overall silence was also beautiful but I do like to have a little classical music play in the background to help stir my imaginations. The phone rang at the precise moment I was turning on its music app. It was my good friend, world traveler (and great storyteller) Adam from Chicago calling at what seemed (to me) to be the perfect time. He asks, "So where are you now?"
I spoke happily, in a jaw-dropping manner, caused by the magnificent view before me. I remarked to him that I wished I could, "pluck my eyes out and put them in his head" so he can see exactly what I was seeing. The discussion soon morphed into ideas about technology, the younger generation and travel. Adam enthused on the potential of how new media technology might bring these fantastic places to people via some kind of tech device. We talked about how I could Skype to him what I was looking at and I was reticent at the thought of that knowing that even the greatest, current technology could not accurately show him what I was seeing. We spoke about how the younger generation is accustomed to having nearly all their experiences mediated through some kind of device. "Is it making them more creative?", he queries. I did appreciate the fact that I could hear my passionate friend's voice in a clear manner even thought it was hundreds and hundreds of miles away. Adam can tell great stories and I remembered the stories he told about the long cross-country travel he did a few years ago. Actually, I don't remember the specifics of his stories but I do remember how his storyteller-voice made me feel like traveling to all the places he visited. I know that technology can certainly convey the specifics of any place on the planet but can it make you truly feel like you have to travel there? Isn't that what the best stories do to us....make us feel like we are actually there or, as the great author Joseph Conrad said, "More importantly to make you SEE."
I wonder now if a generation trained on mediated devices, would just be satisfied with images and videos of amazing places like Monument Valley, and thus not feel the imperative to ever visit them? Images, videos and sound are not enough. There still needs to be the ancient storyteller voice coming through that compels us to visit these sacred, natural places around the country and the world. And visiting these natural wonders is also a way we can financially support its preservation and, in many cases, its restoration from human abuse. I thought to myself, "Will the birthplace of the storyteller someday also see the last one?"