Etched Through Time – Soumya Kulkarni


Etched Through Time – Soumya Kulkarni
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For the past week, I traveled with my family through the Southwestern U.S. There, blessed by the incomprehensible beauty of the American National Parks — the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, and the Valley of Fire — inspiration comes searching for you, as it has for millions of others through history. Surrounded by towering cliffs the size of skyscrapers and brilliant blood-red rocks, it is difficult to avoid contemplating time. All around you is a lesson in both patience and perseverance — the rocks form intricate carvings and statues that could only be conjured by the human mind. And yet, they remain more beautiful, more enduring than anything the human mind could ever fathom. Whole temples of rock stand on the foundations of older, stronger rock; each layer represents the work of a few billion years. Vast expanses of this barren landscape remain relatively undisturbed by human presence, and, as a result, an overwhelming calm subdues the atmosphere. Far from the blaring lights and stench of Vegas, these places are havens for introspection and thought. Despite this, life oozes through the very pores of the canyon walls. Lush green vegetation thrives off the water dripping through the rock, forming the famous Hanging Gardens. Down below, lightning fast geckos and fiery red ants make their homes among the sand and gravel. The cliches of my descriptions do not escape me. I am hardly the first person to be left awestruck by these locations — nor will I be the last. Millions of people with words and talents far better than mine have tried to capture this grandeur. But for the past few months, I have been gripped by a shocking realization. Our mind is never truly our own. It is simply a composite of all the minds that have ever existed or will exist. There is no such thing as pure originality. So what then is the point? Why do we try with our finite tools to explain the inner workings of the infinite? I read a story somewhere about an anthropology professor who told his students, “you all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you. That’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person and it’s okay if that person is you.” For a while, this story disturbed me. What a defeatist argument, I thought. But I am starting to think that maybe I was wrong. High up on the sheer rock cliffs, with more courage in their little pinkies than I have in my whole body, rock climbers make their move. Virtually invisible from both the sky and the ground, these individuals have the faith that they will be able to save themselves. There is a strange simplicity in giving yourself up to the same forces of nature that carved the canyons, letting them save you. And like the rocks, finding the patience and perseverance to believe that someday, when the time is right, you will change if not the whole world, then at least someone’s world.

Canyon

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