I just spent two days meandering around Sequoia National Park in the Central Valley of California. My first National Park Adventure. And I must say….I have been missing out.
There are so many natural wonders around the world that most people do not get to see. And they are beautiful. They are preservations of a much more tranquil world that we don’t often get to experience in modern times.
Of course, being winter, the park was in off-season and very few (I’m talking maybe 20) people were in my area of the park.
It was peaceful.
Only the sounds of feet hitting the partially-frozen ground and the rustling of leaves in the giant Sequoia trees.
For a few moments, I stopped and listened to hundreds of lady bugs walking around on dry grass. It was the only thing I could hear. And it was beautiful. Almost meditative.
It is hard to imagine that places like this exist when we get caught up in the fast-pace of city life. It seems that there are always crowds of people and lines waiting to be stood in. So this weekend I asked myself, “Why am I wasting so much time?” All the moments I wait for my Starbucks Americano or to purchase my groceries. The moments I sit in non-moving traffic to get to work.
WHAT ARE WE DOING? Why am I doing this?
When just a couple hours away, I could be spending all that time enjoying the beauty of my world?
Obviously we all have responsibilities and commitments. To work. To school. To our families. We cannot always drop everything and take an escape from everyday life. But when we can, we should. A day here; a weekend there. To experience new things and the world around us. The preserved world that now has to be protected from destruction so our surroundings don’t turn into a commercialized hullabaloo.
People do it all the time: pack a backpack with life’s necessities and set out to camp and hike through the forest for days, sometimes weeks at a time. Why can’t I?
So I’ve made this my new goal: take more vacation days/weekends/trips to see the wonderments that nature has created for us. We only live once. And I believe I should be spending that time doing more exploring.
On this same trip, I started listening to NPR podcasts (I am finally growing up!). I have always wanted to keep up on the news, current events and be more environmentally aware, but I use the excuse that I don’t have time. Quite honestly, I find the news a little dry. I would rather be reading a fiction novel or breaking a sweat at the gym. Reading the news is not a priority for me.
NPR makes it easy. There is an app for your smartphone. You can read articles, or for the more lazy individual like myself, listen to a podcast on your drive to anywhere. I listened to a TED talk entitled, “Everything is Connected”. The host spoke with 4 different experts discussing facts on how everything in our world is connected. From bees to wolves to the biosphere.
The whole talk was about realizing that our intentional tampering with nature upsets the balance in more areas than the one we are focusing on. For example, removing bees from an area decreases the bee problem. BUT it also upsets natural pollination and plant/fruit growers are forced to use artificial pollination, which is much less effective AND requires use of pesticides. No brainer, right? Just stop upsetting the ecosystem!
The same is true of the Sequoias. They are gorgeous trees that have been resisting decomposition for thousands of years. If they burn, most of them have the capability to heal their own wounds and become healthy trees again. That process takes hundreds of years. But they keep trucking away. None of this would be possible without the lichen (new word I learned) covering them, the natural fall-down of other trees that opens up an environment for other species to live AND allows smaller baby sequoias the land and sunshine they need in order to grow. Not without the seeds from pinecones being replanted into the soil. The entire ecosystem works together. It is self-sustaining. We must help preserve it so our biosphere as a whole will survive efficiently.
Why do we have to be greedy and destroy systems like these for money? Or property? Or open space? It is important to remember that causing an imbalance anywhere in our biosphere has to be balanced out somewhere else. As we are all connected. Perhaps in the past the alterations haven’t dramatically upset the lives of humans. Or the upset goes un-noticed. But I don’t believe it will always be this way.
From my little adventure I have given myself this advice:
Try to be more conscious. Be aware of how my actions are affecting not only the people around me and my immediate surroundings, but also my world as a whole. If we all take this advice and even do one small thing such as recycling, not wasting food or water, not hunting for pleasure but purely sustainability, or respecting nature and avoiding littering. Any of these, among many others can make a difference.
Be aware. Be conscious. You can feel comfortable taking a breath of fresh air knowing that you are trying to preserve our environment and indirectly, our own lives.
Plus…taking a break from everyday life and truly taking a breath of fresh air at 6500 ft. elevation is a huge relief.