May 5th, 2023
Recently I went backpacking in the canyons of Southern Utah.
Although I remember the first time I drove through that land when I moved to Colorado from Massachusetts 15 years ago, it did nothing to stop my jaw from dropping open as we turned west off of 191 to head into Canyonlands.
I’m not speaking in some cute terms of “my jaw dropped open”. I mean literally and not figuratively literally:
My actual jaw. Dropped. Open.
As it started to sprawl out before me, I couldn’t help feeling like I was on another planet. I couldn’t open my mouth wide enough to contain the awe.
I’ve spent lots more time in that part of the country since then, but it still blows my mind and makes my jaw drop open every time I enter that landscape.
But this is not a blog about my vacation, or even about the jaw-dropping beauty of southern Utah. It’s about the experience I was fortunate to have as I sat in one spot there for two nights and two days with just a sleeping bag, a bevy sac, a few extra layers, sunscreen and WATER.
Something glorious happens, actually.
That’s right, on that Canyon, nothing happened because there was nothing to do. No journal to track my insights. No food I had to plan or prepare. No book to distract me from me. No hikes to take me on curious adventures.
Just me and the canyon.
And within that silence of the world and myself, I was happily forced to get really really quiet. In these moments, I stopped trying to figure everything out, and I sat for a long time just listening to my breath and the quiet of the canyon.
I watched the light change.
I watched the first star show itself in the evening and I watched the last star disappear in the morning.
I also talked to my ancestors.
I cried as I let my heart break and I laughed as I sat with the gorgeousness of being human.
I was totally chill with the fly that landed on my leg and I didn’t get bored or hungry or scared.
And in the middle of the afternoon, when the desert sun was hot and my body was getting accustomed to not eating, I lay down on my sleeping bag, closed my eyes, and heard a question:
Immediately, my response was a fervent NO. I could feel the clarity of the NO rise up in my belly and I knew instantly that it came from a deep well of knowing. Knowing that: NO. Self doubt is NOT my final answer.
This instant knowing excited me so much that when my two days were up, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to keep opening further and further into the quiet. Afterall, I was only now scratching the surface. What other intuitive knowings were waiting to bubble up outside of me?
After this time, I couldn’t imagine coming back to this world and having anything to say.
But alas, I did. I packed up my things and walked back with my guide to our shared campsite and the next day we hiked out of the canyon and I made my way back home to my plants and my people waiting for my return.
After my time away, I came back knowing something very important: it turns out that I still have a few more things to say.
I still have work to do that involves speaking and eating and reading and writing. And as I enter again the world of words (and books, and food!) I carry with me one of the big gifts from my time in the canyon:
The fervent NO I felt in response to the question I was asked…“is self-doubt your final answer?”
And if self-doubt is NOT my final answer, what’s next? What comes after self-doubt?
Which is why I now offer the question to you: “Is self-doubt your final answer?”
What would be possible if you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you have to say matters?
That your work in the world is significant. That your mere presence is significant.
What would you try?
What would you say?
Who would you help?
What direction would you leap?
I ask again: Is self-doubt your final answer?
It’s with nothing but deep love, gratitude and reckless anticipation that I hope a fervent NO is bubbling up inside you as well.
Here’s to the quiet, and to what comes after self-doubt.
If you’re ready to move beyond your self-doubt by taking the next step, click this link to schedule a time to chat: https://www.johannawalker.com/chat. You don’t have to move forward alone.