Reading The Signs In Moab Mountains

Apr 23, 2021

I found the perfect spot for my morning yoga and qigong

 Art by Tia Ma

“HOT DAMN! There are so many choices.” I said to the John Wayne painting in my hotel, trying to choose where to spend my day as I got dressed. Goblin Valley? Canyon Lands? Monument Valley? Mesa Verde? I started at a cafe in downtown Moab and had my omelet and coffee while I threw tarot at my table in the corner by the window. A French motorcycle gang glanced my way a few times, but I was in my zone.

For Goblin valley, I pulled ‘Knight of Wands’: action, courage, energy. Mesa Verde drew the ‘Star’ card: deeply healing yin energy. Monument valley offered me the ‘Knight of Pentacles’: patience and earthy accomplishments. The two ‘Knight’ cards I pulled spoke about arrival, and being on time. But when I pulled the ‘High Priestess’ for The Canyon Lands, it won the compass point for the day. I love me the magic the High Priestess offers. Tuned In, Tapped In, Turned on!

“Well all right then,” declaring to myself, “Canyon Lands it is.”

I drove past The Arches, glad for the familiarity from the few days I’d spent in the area. I entered the park, 35 miles from Moab, and was awestruck. First off, I spied Twin Buttes. I walked past the historic brown signs with the maps, details, dates, I thought of my dad and chuckled. My whole childhood, he’d go crazy when I wouldn’t read the signs at the rest stops. I just rushed off to SEE the thing. I wanted to know it myself, firsthand. I wanted to explore without the interpretations and cliff notes. I see just how bull-headed this is, but still — I walked past the signs, knowing I’ll read them on the way back. Those two buttes were calling me, way more than the sign was.

I walked some winding trails and thought about the year since my father had died. This month-long solo trip was in honor of him, and an attempt to create my own goodby after his funeral party had been canceled by my mother. I noticed a large octopus of trail options. Curved tentacles wrapped around boulders and platform rocks. I came to what seemed like the edge of a cliff but noticed another landing below.

Excited, I ventured deeper into a large canyon across from those two sister mountains. The new landing was like its own little room. My heart sped up a bit as I looked over this edge and found one more hidden ledge. I noticed a bunch of human footprints, so I assumed it was sturdy enough to stand on.

I’m accustomed to the sandy, aquifer, and sinkholes of Florida, and shifty rockslides of the Oregon coast, so it was hard to simply trust that the rock waterfalls balanced on tiny pebbles were going to stay like that if I stood on them.

But I saw a glowing spot calling me — down on that last ledge — and I knew I had found my spot for my morning yoga and qigong. These are the signs I like to read! I reached the spot, took off my cowgirl hat and set my eyes to gaze five miles upon the horizon, and began.

Dropping into form, the chatter in my head faded. My brain slowed its need to categorize and label. Breathe in…. pause. Breathe out…. pause. Slowly expand…. pause… come together…pause. I “Separated Heaven and Earth” as my shoulders stretched in opposite directions as I gazed at those twin mountains.

A ripple of gratitude, starting from my feet — rose like a fountain — until all around me it was raining thanks. Like thick honey, a volcano of Qi poured through me. I offered it to that land and those mountains across the large gully.

I shifted into some yoga — I started in downward dog and burst out-loud laughing! Seeing those two mountains upside down, made me feel like a kid. After some warrior, triangle and eagle, I felt so full of energy, that I bounded up the hill. My Capricorn rising goat-self was sure-footed as I rock hopped, up, up, up! Once eye level with the road, I felt eager to dive deeper into Canyon Lands to see what treasures I could find — but wait… My HAT!

I’d left it on the side of the cliff. Mock-skiing, I jumped down the crusty trails and stones, and I found a man standing on the very edge, holding my hat — looking down to the canyon’s floor.

“Oh good, you found my hat.”

I smiled, having no idea what language he spoke. I guessed he spoke French since about 80% of the folks I tried to chat up that whole month were from France, on their Summer holiday.

His face considerably relaxed. “Phew, I was just wondering if someone had lost their hat when they jumped off the edge.”

I laughed. He handed me my hat. He had a casual look about him, hair was slightly grown out, with a scruffy beard, a pink and yellow t-shirt on. “I’m visiting Utah, here to drop my son off, he’s moving to Moab.”

Martin was his name, and we ended up chatting a bit about the area and we shared some of our adventures, he mentioned something about Utah State for college. My heart sped up again, as I asked an odd question, he answered…

“Well yeah… I knew your dad…. I had Professor Powers for Psyc 101. He was awesome! That must have been in ’86 or ’87.”

Those were the last years my Dad taught in Logan, before moving to Oregon. Goosebumps spread over my skull. Here, in an extremely populated international tourist land with millions of people passing through each day, here on the edge of this cliff, here on my adventure honoring my father, this was the man to pick up my hat?

I felt the magic of our small world as I remembered the ‘High Priestess’ card I pulled over coffee. Every pore in my body tingled with electricity as he shared how my father inspired him with his teaching, and how he remembered my dad’s laugh.

With my eyes dilated by kundalini, I said goodbye to Martin. From my medicine bag, I offered tobacco and sage in gratitude to Great Spirit to be able to see the glow that called me to that spot for qigong practice. I set my crystal in the sand to record the moment.

“Hey, Dad — Did you see that connection? Whoa!”

I offered prayers of thanks for Magic and Synchronicity and felt the expansive, tingling trust of the bigger picture. I was left with the feeling — that even alone on the edge of a cliff, I wasn’t alone. I felt tiny in the grandness of it all. Closing my eyes, I saw my dad’s big smile and twinkling eyes.