Renewal of Spirit and Inspiration at the Grand Canyon

It’s the start of the Summer season, which means a lot of baby boomers go out and see parts of the country far from home. That’s what BoomerCafé publisher and co-founder David Henderson just did, and it was a cleansing experience. How could it be otherwise, at the Grand Canyon?

Standing at the south rim of the mighty Grand Canyon in Arizona, I reflected on my reasons for being here. Perhaps it sounds a bit spiritual but I felt a purpose in being drawn back to view the immensity of one of the most remarkable places on earth.

It isn’t my first time. I have come to the Canyon several times over four decades, and the place seemingly has not changed. While we live in an ever-increasingly intense and chaotic world, the Canyon’s time clock is measured in millions of years … almost as if the Canyon tells us unequivocally that it was here long before us and will exist long after we are all gone.

David Henderson

David Henderson

My internal urge to return to the Canyon started as I worked in my office in Arlington, Virginia, and listened to the near-constant wail of police, ambulance, and fire sirens … day and night.

The DC area has turned into an environment of abrupt and dishonest behavior, irrational and dangerous recklessness on highways, hostility that plays out in random shootings, and attitudes of selfish entitlement.

My desire to visit the Grand Canyon was not unlike the premise of the motion picture “Grand Canyon” from 20 years ago, when a diverse group of friends in Los Angeles escaped to the solitude of the Canyon. I will always remember a line that Kevin Kline spoke to Danny Glover in that film because it rings as true today as 20 years ago:

“The point is there’s a gulf in this country. An ever-widening abyss between the people who have stuff and the people who don’t have shit. It’s like this big hole in the ground, as big as the f**king Grand Canyon. And what’s come pouring out is an eruption of rage, and the rage creates violence, and the violence is real. Nothing’s gonna make it go away until someone changes something, which is not going to happen.”

But the Grand Canyon can make it go away, at least for a while. Even though visited annually by millions of people from around the world, it’s possible to simply tune-out and watch a large California Condor glide past the cliffs or catch a glint of the Colorado River as it snakes through the Canyon a mile below.

Grand_Canyon_2I think as we get older … to this point in our lives … many of us want to isolate ourselves from the rage because nobody’s going to change it. What we seek is more individual solitude and sanity. Certainly I do. Even though I live in the nation’s capital, I want the … well, call it, renewal of spirit and the centeredness that comes from such natural grandeur as the Grand Canyon. Here, I found it.


All photos ©2013 David Henderson.


  1. Wow, I am not alone in how I feel and what I crave. The beauty of nature has a way of calming us and renewing our spirit. I live in the Adirondacks of upstate New York, and find each day that I am able to get outside a renewal of my spirit that allows me to face what I am witnessing happening in the world today that makes me so angry-the injustices done and suffering of so many. Thank you David, this article is like a breath of fresh air.

  2. Excellent article David, and I agree with everything you say, even though I live in a prettier and much less populated part of the West. That is one of the reasons we are considering moving to another country to retire.
    One response to my writing about midlife disillusionment hit home for me: Boomers are the generation who have personally witnessed the end of the American Dream.

  3. Dear friends,

    Many thanks for your thoughtful comments about my piece on the Grand Canyon. How can anyone adequately write about such a place? I cannot. We attempt to express it in photos, I suppose.

    Tip for baby boomers – The National Park Service has a lifetime senior’s pass for $10 or $15 which I highly recommend. It’s good for use at any national park.

    Thanks, again,


  4. Beautiful pictures David. I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon in years. Seeing your pictures reminds me that there are so many beautiful – and peaceful places – right here in the US. One just needs to get in the car, drive to them, and then breath them in. As Dorothy said, “there’s no place like home”.

  5. Great pics! The GC is a beautiful and very special place for certain.

    About 25 yrs ago I was standing at the rim looking down at the glint of the Colorado River far below and, on a whim, decided to hike down to it. Next morning at dawn I began my descent. It was an amazing experience to hike all the way down to the river. A fairly easy downhill hike. I splashed around in the water, relaxed on its bank … then looked up – straight up – at the huge looming walls of the canyon that awaited my climb back up. The climb back up the canyon was daunting. It took three times as long to climb up as to climb down. There were actually a couple times I wondered if I would even be able to make it. The sun was setting and I was totally exhausted when I reached the top. I leaned against a rock wall to rest. Right next to me was a sign that warned hikers to allow three days to hike down & back. “Oh great. Now they tell me,” I thought to myself. Why had I not noticed that sign before I started my hike? A weathered old man with canyon-like crevices etched into his copper-colored face saw me sitting on the wall, sweaty, dirty, obviously exhausted, staring at the sign. “You hiked to the bottom?” he asked. I nodded. “In a single day?” Again I nodded. The hint of a smile crossed his features. “Good for you,” he said, “now you know the true meaning of the Grand Canyon.”

    Absolutely true story.

  6. Respectfully, I just gotta disagree … not with your description of the awesome, inspirational grandeur of the Grand Canyon, I totally agree on that. But I wholeheartedly disagree with the comment above from Laura Lee Carter. IMHO, the American dream is very much alive and well … indeed, thriving!

  7. Dear David, this so rings true to everything I feel. We too tasted of the wonders of reflection which nature offers during our short trip to the Muir Woods on our recent trek in the U.S. It seems to me that frustration is part of the price to be paid for the transformation of the individual and of society in today’s world. Thank you for your gem of insight.

  8. Hi David,

    Thanks for this great article. I came upon your piece when I was trying to find some kind of information on why I feel drawn to the Grand Canyon. I live in Singapore, and I consider myself lucky enough to have visited several times. The first was at 17 and the most recent two years ago. I’m now in my 30s, and as I get older, the call gets stronger. There is immense power and serenity to the Grand Canyon (Could it be the red rocks? I don’t know) that pulls me to it – enough for me to travel halfway across the world! No other place in the world gives me the same feeling. Perhaps the next time I visit I should make it a much longer stay. So I would like to say that you are extremely fortunately that it is a drive away (of course, distance is a variable) so I would be grateful if you could think of me the next time you visit. 🙂

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