On my way back from my supply run I stopped at Carlsbad Caverns. I knew it was a very heavy tourist destination, but I didn’t realize the scale of it. I was told that there were 200 people in the caverns at the moment with several hundred more set to arrive. The parking lot was nearly full, and the wait for the elevator going up could hit 2 hours. On the way down I opted for the less traveled natural trail. A series of switchbacks that lead you 750 feet (230 meters) down into the caverns.
The crowds were intense. I was stopped on the narrow trail as families slowed down for their kids to hopefully appreciate what they were seeing. However, I did not mind. Despite my normally fast pace, I was constantly struck by the beauty of the caverns. Speleothems reached into the void of the cave from every horizontal surface. Thousands of years and millions of drops of calcium filled water led to each and every stalactite and stalagmite in the cavern. Each one has its own shape, story, and composition. Each one was a true mark of patience and time. I wondered what the other guests thought.
Every person is formed from their own experiences and each has their own story. The calcite spears of the cave were no different. They exist on a different time scale but they are fundamentally the same. Individuals made of little steps and experiences occasionally marred by massive change. Some are grander and some are more important. Some almost touch their goals but fall short. Some are prettier. Some fall early, and some are still forming into something great.
If every speleothem in the cavern could think would they see us in the same way? We are only present for the smallest portion of their lives. Would we be an insignificant blip in time? Or would we be one of those forces that forever changes them? Maybe we would be an attraction for them. To look at, appreciate, and ultimately save in their memories.