Introducing our latest contributor, Andrew From AZ. (This might shock you, but that’s not his real name.) Plucked from the obscurity that is our comments board, Andrew is snarky, single and a bit of a (reluctant) scenester. In other words, he’s the perfect person to document the trials and tribulations of life in the world’s hippest suburb.
Some days the entire world seems to be in flames – lately, if it’s not dozens being murdered on the streets in Egypt or Libya, it’s earthquakes and tsunamis killing thousands in Japan. Almost worse is when the bad news hits closer to home. Where, in a bustling city full of generally unsympathetic, busy people, does one turn for some (inner) peace and quiet?
Some head to yoga class, others to church (and not just my grandmother, either!), and the well-heeled make appointments for the spa or therapy. All good options, for those who find such things restorative. For my part, however, I find hiking Phoenix’s mountains to be a more effective option for finding calm in the midst of chaos.
While they’re often frequented by the kind of super-focused, beefy gym-rats I avoid as much as possible, the goofy families and random middle-aged folks huffing and puffing up and down more than make up for it with good-spirited smiles and jovial greetings. Additionally, it’s surprisingly easy to forget the suffering around the world when you’re cursing the half-wit imbeciles who find cleaning up after their dogs an unbearable inconvenience.
Once my legs can’t take any more punishment, I take a quick shower and head indoors. The home collections at the Phoenix Art Museum typically draw neither rave reviews nor crowds, which makes them perfect for the amateur art critic. A stroll through the Asian collection, pausing upon occasion to examine a minimalist piece here or there, is highly effective in restoring at least my personal zen. The plain white walls, the relative quiet… it’s all just what the doctor would prescribe, were she consulted.
A few months ago, Congressperson Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Tucson, Arizona along with over a dozen other real live human beings with families and loved ones and kids and pets and jobs and friends and acquaintances. That evening, a candle-light vigil was organized at the Arizona State Capitol. The Capitol grounds are maintained by convicts, funded by the State Legislature, and overrun by journalists. On the weekends, however, the turmoil, controversy, and stark raving lunacy come to a blessed end. At sunset on Saturday, January 8th, 2011, several hundred people gathered in front of the Capitol building to pay their respects to the dozen who died in Tucson that day and hope/pray/cross their collective fingers that Gabrielle would survive her injury. I don’t know whether it’s the mature landscaping or the sheer quiet that pervades the Capitol grounds on weekends, but something about it makes it among the most restful places you’ll find within Phoenix city limits.
In summary, Phoenix, go outside and hike until you’re exhausted, check out under-appreciated art, and then meander over to the political headquarters of inanity to find the peace and quiet you need to shut out the bad news that seems to pervade our era.
Andrew From AZ