In our world, that’s the way you live your grown-up life: you must constantly rebuild your identity as an adult, the way it’s been put together it is wobbly, ephemeral, and fragile, it cloaks despair and, when you’re alone in front of the mirror, it tells you the lies you need to believe. For Papa, the newspaper and the coffee are magic wands that transform him into an important man. Like a pumpkin into a coach.
You mustn’t get so upset about what you feel, Spud. No one’s a hundred per cent consistent all the time. We might like to be. We can plan our lives along certain lines. But you know, there’s no future in screwing down all the pressure valves and smashing in the gauge. You can do it for a bit and then something goes.
The death of a dream can in fact serve as the vehicle that endows it with new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color. In short, the power of a certain kind of dream is such that death need not indicate finality at all but rather signify a metaphysical and metaphorical leap forward.
Children have a lesson adults should learn, to not be ashamed of failing, but to get up and try again. Most of us adults are so afraid, so cautious, so ‘safe,’ and therefore so shrinking and rigid and afraid that it is why so many humans fail. Most middle-aged adults have resigned themselves to failure.
Marble Canyon rest, Second Powell Expedition, 1872
I am not sure that we can climb out of the canyon here, and, when at the top of the wall, I know enough of the country to be certain that it is a desert of rock and sand. I almost conclude to leave the river. But for years I have been contemplating this trip. To leave the exploration unfinished, to say that there is a part of the canyon which I cannot explore, having already almost accomplished it, is more than I am willing to acknowledge, and I determine to go on.
—John Wesley Powell, leader of the Powell expedition from Green River, WY to the mouth of the Virgin River, which lies in Utah, through the heart of canyon country, May 24th to August 30th, 1869. He retraced the route from 1871-72, this time taking photographs.