Yosemite Dazzle: In Praise of Calibrated Curves

Photo by Randi Purchia
View of Half Dome (Photo: Randi Wade)

This past May, my initiating experience to Yosemite began on its beribboned mountain roads, in perched observation from the frame of a car’s window. With the unfolding visual, circumscribed neither by flies or noise, whole circuits of my brain melded away. My brain, grateful for the stream of stunning images flooding in, eventually let cognition take a vacation.

Moment after moment, there was more and more surprise and delight, astonishment around each curve. I was becoming increasingly untethered. No urgencies of time and distance were presenting themselves.

Within a short period of time, I became aware of a new sensation, a feeling of sing song swaying. It felt like the playing of music, a kind of lyrical, point counterpoint. It was, in fact, the effect of the roadway — I was being rocked, almost like a baby in a cradle.

The magic of those finely calibrated curves is not to go unappreciated. They truly are of another dimension, so far beyond what would normally be considered “good roadway design.”  While they wouldn’t have been John Muir’s preference (although who really knows for sure), for me, they cast a dreamlike spell over the entire experience.

To say Yosemite is beauty manifest is to understate. Curve after curve of that snakelike journey was enchanting. It seemed that somehow or other, I had been granted special dispensation and been admitted to the sacrosanct. I was feeling like a novitiate. Thankfully, Yosemite is a protected territory and, because of that, one feels safe to love it, one can give ones heart to it.

Later I began to wonder, how does the experience of Yosemite actually work on the spirit and body? Does it aerate the spirit like a fresh spring rain? Who knows, maybe it could stimulate the body to expunge free radicals? Or is it a kind of gold, that if you’re lucky, gets bonded on to you?

It is very hard to see Yosemite’s interplay of rising redwoods and granite domes as, in any way, created for man’s utility. The idea that such a place is for man’s dominion — its trees to be cut down, or its rocks to be mined — seems unthinkable.  Of the myriad realities that the mind can construe, it does not seem possible — that given its magnificence — that there could be a reality, in which someone would actually believe that a wilderness, like Yosemite, is a property meant for man’s possession, rather than his reverence.

In reflection, I have mused what meaning should I assign to Yosemite’s grand domes and peaks. On them, nothing is stamped, no interpretation given.

It seems to me that what Yosemite gives is not part of an argument. Yosemite simply is a wonder of time, of processes — a gift to be grateful for. Yet, months later, Yosemite is working on me, digging, I believe, the foundation for a more grateful, wondering heart.

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About the Author

I am an outdoor girl, who especially enjoys walking the woods near my home. Of late, I have found inspiration/refuge in Buddhist philosophy and psychology. With nary a year of formal religious training, I am drawn to the wisdom/writings of the ancients. Love history, with a professional background in start ups, technology, teaching and work in international non profits. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.