Arizona’s Byways; or, Space as a State of Mind

Space. Hard to find in New York City but possible, especially if you find Space, A State of Mind, in places like a subway car or a train or an apartment’s window, per interesting discussions with fellow New York bloggers, CO (My Private Coney) and Alana (Smoke and Gaslight).

What I miss most about traveling out West is the space that defies description. It’s not just a vertigo-inducing, humbling, sublime, awe-freak experience that has to be seen to be believed. It’s the wide-vista phenomenon responsible for Sam Elliot’s epic gaze (even when he’s in a bowling alley with the Dude) and every other hard stare from William S. Hart to Clint.

Check out their...eyes.

Unlike coastal apartment spaces where distances can be measured to how far you can stretch out one hand, out West your eyes get a workout.

In southeastern Arizona, you get wide-open space.

Space so big that the negative space (what is not taken up by “positive” objects) is palpable.

Space so big that even the saguaros have gimlet-eyed gazes.

Space so mesmerizing that driving becomes a test of will–your car versus the epic space below.

Towns have space too–a crossroads becomes as big as the Sonoran desert.

People want the space–or the freedom American West space symbolizes–so much they’ll cross a lethally arid desert on the border of Arizona to get it, dropping water jugs and possessions along the way.

I’d cross a continent to get a glimpse of it at sunset, when space becomes more than air.

I’d cross a continent, though I have space right in my backyard.

4 comments to Arizona’s Byways; or, Space as a State of Mind

  • co

    looking at those pictures I now understand the look of terror in my cat’s eyes when he suddenly realizes he is about to be eaten by a space bigger than his home.

  • Tim

    Hi Bucko,

    Whenever I go back West, this sense of SPACE is the first thing I notice. It feels so liberating, like jumping into the ocean. And when I go back North – Canadian North, where space just goes on and on – you feel like you’re traveling to the very edges of the earth – the place where the earth bleeds out into the unknown. And silence – the silence is like a sound. You never really know it in the city, certainly not in New York. I do feel it’s absence though . . .


  • bucko

    CO–your poor cat. What we do to these poor animals…
    Tim–Just as you said, like jumping in the ocean, which for me is liberating but a little scary. I haven’t been so far north, but I want to experience the old rock of the Canadian shield. Someday…

  • Tim

    Bucko – It’s worth a trip. Total emptiness – I think only Siberia, Australia and maybe parts of the desert have the same kind of emptiness . . . like the land before man.

    Great photos btw. I was out in South California last Christmas, the first time I’ve ever been to that part of the world. What colors, what strange fauna. Put the Western, not to mention all the images of California I had growing up in a totally new light.


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