“Everything you’re going through- is preparing you for what you asked for.”
Her words ring through my mind as I struggle to feel my fingers. I’m at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, scrambling through red slick, falling shale and pouring rain. The once beautiful travertine waters of Havasupai Falls, now turn an angry shade of black.
My vision swirls in watercolor stains across rain soaked skies. The canyon is flooding. We only have minute to reach the safety of higher ground before the rain water bottle necks like a wall of liquid destruction- submerging anything that stands in her way. There are men in tactical survival gear screaming in my ears to vacate my campsite, “MOVE, MOVE.”
My mind races. Maybe she’s right. Maybe, in some way, I asked for this.
Gripping the cold wet walls of the cave, I scramble upward barefoot carrying my backpack, as we find refuge in the dark. In the distance, the canyons thundering fury gaining momentum, I look up to see only the night. Eyes close, the same color… I invoke the sweet escape of sleep.
Like a titan revealing his gold purse- the sky parted and we awoke by the light of the clear morning. The cave our makeshift home, cold and hard, yet- a necessary refuge. The view below of abandoned camps, smeared and strewn across the dirt from the raging waters.
On this day, there is no shortage of pain. My leg recently wrapped from the accidental spill of boiling hot water and a pounding ear infection… yet, I found solace in the view of light leaks, dew stained trees and purple skies.
Behind me- most of our belongings are spread out on a makeshift clothes line, we perch in high caverns of the cave. Drinking instant campfire green tea- we found solace in smoke- reflecting on the intensity of the moments that had just passed. I suck the air and flick the front of my teeth with my cotton tongue.
“What a story this day will be”- she says. I pull the Earth around me and close my eyes only to be reminded of the pounding ear infection in my head. I will get through. I will be warm again.
“Can you pass me the tea?” …. Maybe she’s right. Her voice comes back into my focus as I open my eyes. She tells me, I am a ten gallon person. Heavy, and full. She tells me, “Ten gallon people require an equal measure to be reciprocated to be happy.” Ten gallons. It makes sense- I could never get off on a pint anyways.
Ten gallon people are heavy. We endure, tremendously. We love beyond any measurable tool of fate. How difficult it is to love something fully and then for the sake of preserving it – you must let it go. Love opens doors and makes everything seem possible- yet, just as quickly it can take away the breath inside of you.
How difficult it is to come back from that. Zero gallons. When my love left, I thought it wound be my end. But my soul knew better and asked for this.
She says – “How can you expect to find your truth- if you’re walking around like the guy who’s already had his house blown down?” People are not all monsters and new lovers are not all big bad wolves. Mistakes happen.
“You asked for this.” – she tells me. “Your soul had to remind you what you are made of.”
A trial of the mind and body, to remind me- that despite how hard it can be- to weather the storm… and accept that although you may fail miserably, or lose everything… you still have the strength to get up after a night of loathing, tear stained pillows… make coffee and do what needs to be done to feed the children and get outside to stand in the light. The fact is – lost love is shattering. But these experiences remind us, we are ten gallon people.
The trick, you must learn to forgive yourself before you can accept the forgiveness of others. There is no perfectly guilty party and no one is ever off scot-free.
I say, do not succumb to the torture of loss…let it wash over you, let the burns heal and the internal battle fade into a blaze of your memory. Be the full version of those ten gallons. Because life and amazingly wonderful things and people want to happen to you. Sometimes darling- you just have to get out of your own way to see it.
The sky is clearing now, and all I see are little clouds of possibility.
Photos and Story by Leah Joy Lindner