I’m a mountain goat in Sedona

There are three colors in Sedona: red, blue, and green. The red is rust, the blue has no depth, and the green is the color of life itself. Each is the most vivid shade imaginable. The angry sun boils the rocks so each color simmers. It looks like a black-and-white Western film retouched in Technicolor. It looks like a Remington painting.

IMG_9244.jpgThe rock faces split into natural shelves—each layer representing another 10,000 years of sediment. From afar, each rock thumb looks like an unscalable slope. Up close, they are stairways with a million steps.

I sprinted along these slanted steps. The red rock face towered above me and the gaping green valley lay below. I was a mountain goat. I scampered up a jutting cliff. Climbing up was easy, climbing down was hard. I realized that limestone is a flaky, untrustworthy foothold, and that spotters are very important.

In Sedona I felt like a desert animal. Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 9.10.01 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 9.10.34 PM.png

First steps

My first steps towards any goal are physical steps. My ideas spring from the impact of running shoes on packed dirt. My brain is like wet cement, and my ideas are inlaid bricks. Running dries the cement and sets my ideas in place, so that they might form structures.

Whenever a big essay deadline approaches, I “run on it.” I set out with no music and no phone–just the simple intention of  brainstorming an idea. Not that every run is a well-spring of inspiration. I rarely devise fully-formed plans and paragraphs as I run. I merely seek to create a blank headspace. In this vacuum, creative sparks might flash.

The first steps of my creative process are therefore simple. I require no post-it notes, graphic organizers, Excel sheets, nor Starbucks espressos. I need a good pair of running shoes (I swear by Hoka’s) and a trail.