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A buddy of mine sent a news story about the collapse of a well-known arch in Utah’s Arches National Park. This wouldn’t normally be a big deal to anyone, but it meant something in particular to a couple of friends of mine as well as myself.

About a decade ago, we took a cross-country road trip from New York to San Franscisco and back. Along the way we visited, New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, Texas, Vegas, Death Valley, St. Louis, Denver, Kansas, and even survived a trip to the movies in Oakland.

But one of the most fun parts was Arches National Park, and one of its most iconic arches is the Wall Arch.

Uh, should say, was the wall Arch.

It collapsed. Collapsed!

How messed up is that? There are many external markers in our modern lives that tell you time has passed and that things continue to change. Like, your favorite Original King of Comedy dying. Your hairline. (Emphasis on you, I still have all my hair. For now, with a teensy bit o’ gray.) Your waistline. The very real possibility of a not 100-percent white President. Your friends making their own people in their marital beds. Your sudden inability to go out and drink four nights in a row. (Or so I hear.)

Think of it in these terms: I have seen a piece of natural history that is now no more. Eroded into the sands of time (sorry I can’t think of something better). Gone. Not imploded like an old Vegas casino. Not outmoded and slated for destruction for Shea and Yankee Stadium. Not destroyed in an act of terror.

The Wall Arch just collapsed and went away. Like an entertainer that needed to retire or a TV show that had it’s finale. A piece of rock, going on to live only in our imaginations, photographs, and for those lucky enough to see it, our memories.

But time, not a network exective, or fading box office, is what eventually canceled it. Just time and air. The same time and air that created it. And now it’s gone forever.

And it was always going to be gone forever. It’s not like this would be stopped. The inevitability of what happened puts this arch falling in about as much perspective as how it fell. It couldn’t be stopped, or changed, or preserved, because then, it wouldn’t be a wonder of nature, it would be a pretty rock formation in a case or glossy shellac. Still around, yes, but not natural.

You don’t think about witnessing things in nature as being present for history, but, when you go see something like the Grand Canyon, or the Arches, that’s really what you’re doing. Of course, you’re enjoying the majesty of nature, but believe it or not, for a tiny speck of time, you’re watching a work in progress.




  1. You’re lucky to have seen it.

    I saw the news story on this; a scientist said the collapse was due to “gravity and erosion.” Can women cite this when they age as well?

  2. But rocks don’t have the option of diet, exercise, and of course, plastic surgery.

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