"The more I work, the more I see things differently, that is, everything gains in grandeur every day, becomes more and more unknown, more and more beautiful. The closer I come, the grander it is, the more remote it is."
- Giacometti, found in For the Time Being by Annie Dillard
My sister sent me this book because I read An American Childhood by Annie Dillard and really liked it. This book, however, turned out to be strange...just a collection of thoughts on random topics woven into a book. I didn't like it at first. (One of her topics is birth defects, which she pursues through the whole book.) But the more I read, the more I got a sense of where she was going with it all and I ended up enjoying it. She also talks about her trip to the Terracotta Warriors, which I just got to visit. She gives some history of the emperor and the tomb, so it was a great book to lead in to my visit and make me more curious about the history behind the statues.
We just got back from Mt. Hua a few hours outside of Xi'an. We spent most of the day (10:30-4) hiking up the mountain, generally either clinging to an iron chain while heading up vertical steps that are only half big enough for my feet, or surrounded by crowds of Chinese people (most of whom took the cable car most of the way). It was a challenge, but worth it. Completely beautiful. No rain, either! We spent the night in a little room with 8 others and woke upbefore 5 to catch the sunrise. We had planned to walk all the way down, but we decided we wanted to see the view from the cable car (or, perhaps we didn't trust our now shaky legs back down those sheer drops of stairs).
Even through the rain, this trip has been a chance to realize how much of the grandeur is unknown, to get closer to beauty and realize how remote it still is. The feel of coarse sand beneath my feet, the seashore at night and the sound the waves make as they recede from the rocky shore, the colorful catepillars in the park and horned slimy bugs on the beach, the majestically high mountains, looking down on clouds from the top.
"Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it? It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment."
(just a few of the amazing words spoken to Job.)