Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Part 1 - Finding Joy in the Natural World

There are tourists and then there are travelers, and travelers know the feeling that no mater what adventure we go on, when it’s over there is a void left inside, a void we don’t know how to fill because we don’t know what it is that we are missing. Travelers are searchers, and again, we aren’t even sure what it is were searching for. It could perhaps be described by some as finding oneself, but the problem with finding oneself in travel, is that some day, when the journey has ended the void returns.

Sitting in their office in the city, whatever that office may consist of be it an art studio, or a call center, the void doesn’t disappear, it just slowly starts to get lost, other more pressing issues begin to cover it, and our lives grow around it until it’s all but gone, until it is uncovered with the next journey that is.

My journeys have always been punctuated with moments of insight which seem to fill that void, they come with a certain silent knowledge, even trying to understand it or describe it just makes things more hazy. I have found though, that these moments come most when I am living closest with the land.

In my short 25 years on the earth I can truly look back with wonder at the many lives that I feel I’ve lived, and the many persons that I feel I’ve become. I’ve been privileged enough in my time to see the natural world in what is now its closest to it’s natural state on a few powerful occasions.

Swimming with a few hundred hammerhead sharks 300 miles off of the cost of the mainland of Costa Rica showed me the oceans power, paddling out into waves, far to big for me to surf at my skill level just to sit and feel the oceans motion and behold the power up close and entirely submerge my senses in it. As well as traveling through the arctic on a two month dogsledding expedition with other like minded explorers, seeing a place where with all of the fury of nature, the bitter cold, the long stretches with no life in site, man existed, and in that world, he led a comfortable and happy life. We can learn to survive anywhere, nomads ride on camel trains through the African Sahara, and Hadzabe bushmen have lived side by side with some of the most feared predators of the african planes for over 60,000 years.

When I’m in these places I always try to take a moment, and close my eyes. I sit and listen to every sound that I can hear, or if I’m lucky enough I listen to the silence. Then I take in every smell, and even the temperature of the air or water as it flows across my skin. Only when these are committed to memory will I open my eyes, and look at the world anew, as if it’s the first time. These places are so well committed to memory that I can recall them any time or any place. I can’t imagine doing that in a city.

These places make me happy. Not just in a passing curiosity sort of way, but truly happy. So I ask, why not stay? Why not see the joy of the Inuit or the Hadzabe Bushmen, and learn to become one with the land that our race has so terribly tried to get away from? I hope that in doing this, I can show the joy of a simple life, filled to the brim with just surviving, and that in doing so, I can inspire people to rediscover the natural world, the world that we were born for.


katie said...

great post. i love the dolphin shot... and i know exactly what you mean by being in natural places and feeling some inexplicable joy. i feel lucky to experience such a feeling. your words reminded me of jim loscalzo's - http://www.mediastorm.org/0018.htm

ZenGirlie said...

That's a beautiful story. I wish I could do some expeditions like these. Beautiful photographs.