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  • The Traveler

Erosion and the Big Reveal

We spent the day at the Ramon Crater, which is the Israeli version of the Grand Canyon, a geological land form carved from hundreds of millions of years of erosion. It was rainy and cloudy when we arrived, so we couldn’t see a thing until we descended into the crater by jeep. We imagined the whole area submerged under the ocean with prehistoric marine dinosaurs swimming about. Now it is the Negev Desert in the southern part of tiny Israel (remember- about the size of the state of Rhode Island), and usually has a dusty mars-like terrain.

It turns out that visiting the crater on a rainy day is the best day! Water flowed all around us finding pathways through crevices and impromptu waterfalls. The water revealed the true colors of the mineral layers of the rock walls, red iron and green copper. We even found ourselves at the head of a flash flood! Don’t worry, it wasn’t dangerous. It was miraculous. Water in the desert is truly a joyful sight.

I had not appreciated the quiet strength of erosion before. Rocks, of course, are the foundation of our mighty structures, but here, the rocks become brittle and fall apart from the slow and steady stream of water. "No rock is hard enough to resist the forces of weathering and erosion," National Geographic says. Millions of cumulative moments and droplets made this place what it is, and what it is is astonishingly beautiful. It is a rock hard record of on-going change.

As an American architect, with a capital “Type A”, I have a preferment for all things built. I thought that is how we build ourselves too. Let’s get degrees, licenses, jobs, accomplishments, and pile them all up together and that is who we are, or think we are. I only saw it as an additive process. I hadn’t given much thought to the slow and steady stream of experiences that carve their way in, no less powerful a constructive force.

Perhaps moving to another country and becoming an immigrant has been part of this reveal. I am myself, taking in these new experiences without preconceived notions of what I should or could be. I can’t anticipate experiences, I have no reference points or blue prints to direct the construction process.

Experiences just wash over me, and I respond thereafter. Thank goodness I am happy here and my experiences have strengthened rather than broken me. If anything, it has been a gentle and beautiful process. This dusting off and washing away of my constructed layers has revealed an array of new colors and shapes. Hello me! It's still me, just changing. Is this my natural state? I wonder. I’ll let you know as the years pass.

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