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| Michael Ghiglieri on: The Grand Canyon
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Michael Ghiglieri on: The Grand Canyon
Michael Ghiglieri Q: What Powell saw with his own eyes when he was in the canyon, it must have had some profound effect on him. What kind of effect do you think it had?

MG: Yeah, entry into the canyon systems are arranged by mother nature in such a way that you're deeper, deeper, deeper, more and more grand, more and more obvious that the world is a much more complex place than most people imagine. I think there were two spin-offs or two by-products that Powell earned or Powell experienced on this trip, that he did not anticipate. The first one would be that as they enter Grand Canyon and so on, deep into the crust of the earth, it became all too obvious that the world was a very ancient place. Maybe not even just millions and millions, but tens of millions, hundreds of millions of years old. And, I think it's vindicated to some degree, Powell's interest in science and his long abiding interest in geology and it conflicted to some degree, with his Methodist upbringing. So, in a way, and running away from his father's wishes and entering into Grand Canyon, it was a big indication that his path of science was maybe well founded. But, on top of that, I think, there is something else that occurred to Powell that may have affected his entire career thereafter and what I think happened, and it happens to a lot of us, but he was the first, is that you cannot be in Grand Canyon for day after day, especially when you don't know what's happening next or what tomorrow may bring or even live through it, without an overwhelming appreciation for the cosmic smallness of our lives, in relation to the rest of the world. And, I think that the Canyon forces upon one, a reassessment of where they fit in the world and maybe, demands each of us to decide well what's going to happen next to me, in this tiny little life I live, in these finite number of days I have. And, the goal had been that Powell's future career was decided in that Canyon, in that he was going to make a mark for himself. And, they reconfirmed his desires to succeed in his profession, as a scientist and explorer and say well this is it, this is a brief moment in time, this is our gnat's like existence. It's up to me to make it happen now. A lot of us experience this and I think Powell is probably not immune to it and it may have been really important in in the future.

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