On our guided geology walk at Black Canyon National Park, Ranger Paul talked about the “overhead” of life, the things we need to do in “the world that is made,” so that we can be free to spend more time in “the world that is born.”
We all have to fix our cars, clean the house, get gas and groceries, do laundry, and take care of the myriad other tasks that modern living demands. That’s overhead, and most of it happens in the manufactured world of King Soopers and Home Depot and the bricks and sticks we all live in.
And what the ranger suggests is striving to minimize the overhead so you can spend more time in the world that’s born – the natural world of earth and sky, living, as Teddy Roosevelt suggested, “the strenuous life.”
Which is what we’ve been working on for some time now. But the overhead never goes away completely, even being on the road full time.
Wednesday was an overhead day. We drove to 15 miles to Montrose, a small city on Colorado’s western slope, to take care of the things that needed to be taken care of.
It started with the luxury of having breakfast enchiladas on a restaurant patio, and planning our many stops that would fill the day.
It continued with buying gloves and socks at a big box store, choosing late-season produce at the farmers’ market, getting supplies at the local bike shop and fixing a flat there, buying gas, filling two propane tanks, and doing laundry at a coin-op laundromat (you remember those).
And all the while, soaking up cell signal like thirsty desert nomads. There’s effectively none in the remoteness of Black Canyon.
With that signal, using our phones as hotspots, we informed our trusted network of our status, caught up on email, uploaded hundreds of pictures, scheduled a post to go live, and downloaded instructions on bike repair and trout fishing.
What we didn’t do was spend our precious internet time as we often used to: reading every news headline and wallowing in the chatter of the day, of which there is an unending supply: What celeb said which mean thing about whom. Which issue rankled the hyperpartisans. Who scored the winning point. Why we need to be even angrier about that desperately important thing happening somewhere else.
All of that informational overhead is about paying attention elsewhere, which means paying less attention here, to the present.
Where it belongs.
Even on an overhead day.