While we are born with curiosity and wonder and our early years full of the adventure they bring, I know such inherent joys are often lost. I also know that, being deep within us, their latent glow can be fanned to flame again by awareness and an open mind. (S.F.O.)
So often as people grow older they mature to a point where they no longer allow themselves to experience simple joys in life the way a child does. For children, their innocence and lack of responsibilities allow them to go about life with great “curiosity and wonder”. But as they age, burdens of modern life weigh on a person and they loose the ability to easily loose themselves in moment, to find awe in the littlest things.
Don’t grow up. Keep your inner child, full of curiosity and wonder, alive.
That feeling of wanderlust often spoken of in a dreamy, cinematic way will never leave humankind. Forever will people be yearning to escape to the mountains, parks, trails, shorelines, and forests. Forever will people be looking for another adventure where they can connect with themselves, the world around them, and their companions.
An unconditional ‘thank you’ to Sigurd Olson for putting into words what so many feel. For describing the human soul, the art of adventure, and the wilderness in such an invigorating way.
During a class review for an Environmental Science exam, my professor stated that “humans have become responsible for the state of the Earth”.
This is true if you follow the ‘be responsible for your own actions’ bit, which I do. And at the rates and extents of destruction, construction, consumption and waste, humans have an awful lot to be responsible for. Forests have been cleared and mountains have been moved, with absolutely nothing and no one to blame but the human race.
Being responsible for personal actions is one thing, but humans go about their business as if they have responsibility over the Earth. As if their purpose on this planet is to destroy, construct, consume and waste. As if the planet is theirs. An object owned and available to be exploited. And this has been perpetuated for centuries, with people obtaining “ownership” over a plot of land, over portions of resources, and even over airspace.
Think back to before all of that, though - before “no trespassing” signs, before written proclamations, spoken proclamations of “I own this land” - to a time where people relied directly on the Earth for life. Before items could be bought off of a shelf with no idea of the source or process of creation. When there was zero disconnect between soil, water, air, and a human’s life.
Today ‘believing’ in Mother Nature is seen as counter-culture, and doesn’t seem to be encouraged by society. As animals, creatures from the earth and so very connected to it (though sometimes seem so separated) humans need to recognize the importance of the natural world. And not as something to be used for economic and personal benefits. As something that nobody can ever capture, possess, call their own. We need to recognize the deep connections that we have with Earth and embrace those connections. Foster them.
I belong to the Earth. I belong to the mountains, the pine forests, the lakes and rivers, the soil. None of it is mine and none of it will ever belong to anybody. Earth has been around much, much longer than humans and will most likely remain after humans have left her surface.
Take some time to go out and to the woods, sit near a stream, a lakeshore, a field, and thank Earth for everything she has done for you. For the life she has brought to you.
I went canoeing with my dad on a creek near our house. The sun was out, everything was so incredibly vibrant. Little patches of snow and ice remain on the banks and the water is wildly cold after winter. Working memory back into my muscles, we fell into a quick rhythmic pace carving tightly around the corners and pushing against the current. Every reason I am in love with canoeing came back to me. It was the most perfect little adventure I could have imagined.
I have spent a lot of time this week talking to professors and contemplating which direction I want to be taking my studies. I am no closer to having an idea for the long-run, but right now that’s not as important to me as feeling like I am going in a positive direction. And that is the conclusion I have come to. After a round-about trip to Fargo with dreams of Architecture, I am confidently majoring in Environmental Studies and minoring in Art. Even when I was planning to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming an Architect, I had the feeling that I would end up somewhere else. I guess I was right.
Studying something I am passionate about is really important, as my life is not about being focused on a career and building social status. I am here to learn about things that interest me and to love what I do. Going to college is almost always a voluntary action, yet far too often people complain about it. So many people are simply going through the actions and completing the bare minimum in order to get a degree in something that will earn them enough money to be “happy”. Enjoying college is about more than staying up late watching movies, partying, and being out of your parent’s house. For most, college is that first big step into something new, starting a new way of life. Shouldn’t that step be one into something of passion, or at least great interest and curiosity?
Growing up in the United State’s middle-class society, I was expected to go to college right out of high school. Nothing was ever mentioned about other alternatives, almost as if there were none. So I toured schools and filled out applications with the rest of my classmates. However, the closer I got to high school graduation, the more I realized that I was far less excited than most to be heading off to college. For me, it wasn’t the next natural place for me to go. Still I went along with it and I was fine. But I felt burned out, going to class was draining, and studying had no place in my desired agenda.
I don’t exactly remember how I decided to take a semester off from school, but it was the best thing I could have possibly done. Allowing myself time to take even just 7 months to forget about classrooms, homework, and due dates greatly benefited me. It gave me time to de-stress and more importantly, to find a desire to learn without being told it was what I had to do. I now love going to all of my classes and studying is almost enjoyable.
Living on my own without rules at college 4 hours away from my family wasn’t freeing. I was still following the “plan” that was set down in front of me. Taking time off from school was what I needed to do to finally feel like I was in control of my own life. To break away from what was expected of me and to have the strength and confidence to simply do what I needed to do. I am now a strong advocate for taking time off after high school, or at some point in your college career, especially if you aren’t enjoying learning. It can give you a break from 17+ straight years of schooling and allow you to find your desire to learn.
I believe that a college degree is important for many reasons (however, still not for everyone) but there is a difference between going through motions to receive it, and wanting it.
This can apply to more than just college. Sometimes just taking the time to stop and think about why you are doing something can really help you. Take a break. Take a step back. Leave the trail, create your own. No one has to follow you. Everyone is different, no single path is right for everyone.
My voyage has been unique and will continue to change direction and take detours. But so far, it has led me to some wonderful places.