Day in and day out many of us live our lives charted by a bland routine or a schedule of never ending commitments. Sometimes we get lost in the true meaning of what it means to be human living in nature, and what our true purpose in life really is. It is those quiet moments in life where we learn and try to understand the lives that we live. Many times we are inspired by the intangible, the beautiful, and of course by the people who surround us. It may never be clearly understood why these things effect our emotions and motivations the way they do. However, each individual knows every now and again our own inner nature calls out from inside for us to reconnect to what we once considered ourselves a part of, instead of something that we now own. We do understand this primitive instinct allows us to connect our lives with the natural world whether it is when we notice a tiny bug, or the majestic glory of a setting sun.
As I have grown older it has been harder and harder to find time to sit and relax. Growing up I had all the time in the world to hang out, watch television, or go outside to play in the sun. All of the things I took for granted as a child are now luxuries in the crazy schedule of a college student. Camping has always been a way for me to get away from it all; to sit back and enjoy all the wonders nature has to offer. Ironically, although I camped much more as a youngster I never really appreciated what was around me or what this planet had to offer, I was more interested in being one of the few people around and knowing that I could be as loud as I wanted. Now when I go camping I always make “me” time where I can sit, reflect, and organize my thoughts on what I want to change about myself, or how I could better improve things in my life. It is times like these that I really learn to appreciate what has been given to me.
Recently I had an awesome camping experience with a group of people that truly inspire me. We went camping at Timbercrest Lodge, located in the beautiful countryside isolated from towns and street lights. The changing color of the trees on the mountainside blended together like a painting only Monet could dream of. Only the most pure and bright oranges, reds, yellows, and greens could be seen for miles as the sun cast its rays gently on the palette of colors. Calm ripples of dark blue lake water shimmered and sparkled below as a cool breeze pushed floating geese aimlessly to the East. The air was pure, the skies were blue, and the fresh smell of country air invigorated all of us. As we stepped out into the mid-afternoon no one said a single word. We were all listening for something; a car to drive by, an airplane flying low overhead, or even just people talking, but there was only the sound of the lake tip-toeing against the shore and some birds squawking as they flew overhead. The perfect “V” of flying geese reminded us of the new season as the clouds overhead moved gracefully across a sea of blue. It is settings like these that cause us to take a step back, and realize the truly important things in life such as family, friends, and those long term goals I have drifted away from.
During my excursion to this camp site I had some free time to be alone and roam the area. I traveled around the lake on paths littered with falling leaves from the trees above. As the sun began to set it was their stunning color that lit my way. The wind rustled the leaves as I traveled on, and I noticed the most supreme quiet I have experienced in a while. No birds were chirping, no cars honking, and no teachers teaching. Even as I was walking along the path of leaves I did not hear any crunching beneath my feet. This winding path led me to a peninsula which pointed at the setting sun. It was as if the land were saying in the silent way only nature can, “look and be calm.” I sat on a rock staring at the streams of light bursting out from over the trees, and was amazed by its stunning beauty. The rays of the sun were shooting in infinite directions not letting one moment of darkness sneak an early peak at the pastel colors found on the mountainside.
It was here that I could sit without interference from the outside world. Although the sun sets every single day one rarely gets to enjoy this great natural wonder. We take this natural cycle for granted, and we never really take the time to reflect on the natural beauty this world gives to us, or our place within it. I reflected back on all the highlights of the year, and all that I have done to get where I am now.
As the setting sun splashed its golden silence upon me, my mind began to wander and I found myself starting to prioritize my life and discern what was really important to me now, and what I could put on a back-burner. I found myself to be spread a little too thin recently, and it was in this moment I finally had the chance to collect my thoughts and reorganize my life. When I got up I realized what I should devote more time to in my academics, and what extracurricular activities were going to have to hold for the moment. As the sun began to fade away, and the final geese flew into the night I did not want to move. I just wanted to sit in the silence of the night, and gaze at the first stars peaking through the blanket of night. It is hard to pull yourself from perfect calmness knowing when you get up the real world awaits you with all its joys and pains. Walking back to the lodge I felt refreshed and relaxed. It is an amazing and unique ability humans have to be able to be consumed by the silence and isolation only nature can offer, and change themselves without speaking a word. In today’s society it is now a huge luxury to find a spot in nature far from pressures of the daily world, and totally isolated from the 21st century. It is a small luxury everyone should try to find once in a while.
Nature has many roles in this world whether it is to inspire, teach, or even to remind us what it means to relax. Nature allows us to get away from ringing cell phones and beeping pagers in order to find a spot where the stars can actually be seen. One may never know why you can find simple inspiration just by gazing at a sunset, but when one experiences it they never forget. They never forget the serenity of dusk. They never forget what it really means to be quiet.