We just wrapped up a weeklong family road trip, driving from Eugene to Logan, Utah (where John’s manufacturing facility is) and then on to Moab/Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon before winding our way home via some of the most desolate stretches of road I’ve ever been on. Like, “Next rest stop is in 273 miles and it is a 3-inch-tall sage bush.”

It was extremely humbling to be in these parks, particularly Arches and the nearby Dead Horse Point where you can see rock layers that go back 275 million years. I felt very small, gazing at this scenery, like not so much in a physical sense (although some of the formations are dizzyingly huge, it seemed impossible to capture any kind of scale in a photo) but in terms of … earth time, I guess?

There was this feeling of insignificance that was actually weirdly reassuring. It can seem like the whole story of the planet is people and what people do and say, but plot the entirety of human existence on that layer-cake of ancient sediment and sandstone and petrified wood and it would barely show up. My own life: a blip. I felt cosmically unimportant and enormously grateful; briefly untethered from the endless mental loop of fretting about the past and the future and my purpose in the world.

I am so lucky to be here, is what I kept thinking.