The West is and always should be…

“The West is and always should be about silence and space. Lots of it. About endless landscapes that stretch to infinity, and unbroken skies that defy description, and moments of such incredible beauty and clarity that you think you’ll burst if you don’t share this extraordinary moment with someone right now.

And what makes the West so special is that you can’t.

The West has always been about remoteness and unimagined quiet and sometimes it made us crazy trying to decide if we loved it for its solitude or loathed it for its isolation. But it was the West’s unforgiving nature that also made us feel stronger. We chose to live here with all its emptiness and hardship and unforgiving space. Being able to survive the West, on its terms, gave us a leg up on the world.

Still the West made us mad with its contradictions. We’d stand on the summit of a favorite peak or canyon rim and we’d almost be giddy. And then the silence would sweep over us and we’d search for some sign that we aren’t as insignificant as we feel, and we couldn’t. And suddenly our laughter would sound like the hollow giggles of a mad man let loose in a coliseum. And we’d feel so alone and we’d want to tell someone. We’d want to hear a voice. But we couldn’t. Because this is The West — the breathtaking, heartbreaking, unrelenting, unforgiving American West. Or at least, it was…”

Jim Stiles is one of my personal heroes. He is a tragic hero. Tragic in that he is often misunderstood. A hero because he fights for things that matter. He clings tenaciously to ideas of the West that are slipping away. He is, as well, simply human. While I don’t agree with everything he says, I agree with a lot of it, and I respect the man.

Photo Courtesy of The Post Independent

Photo Courtesy of The Post Independent

The above quote was written by Jim. It is the most articulate, profound, and succinct description of the West and what it invokes in me personally that I have ever read. If you are interested in reading the entire article, it can be found here:
Jim also publishes the Canyon Country Zephyr – Planet Earth Edition.

It ran for 20 years as a print publication and is now exclusively online. He is also the author of “Brave New West — Morphing Moab at the Speed of Greed.” Both can be found at


Posted on February 21, 2014, in Profiles of the Southwest and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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