Reunion with the Trees

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

-John Muir

When I read this particular quote by John Muir I find that I am asking myself a question: am I living in such a way that I am benefiting this web of all creation? After I recite these words, I marvel at their truth. Take a solitary pine tree for instance, is it solitary? Are there not birds nesting upon its branches? Or squirrels circling its trunk? Is the tree itself not producing vital oxygen? Are the birds and the squirrels not giving the tree its essential carbon dioxide? Nothing, solitary as it may seem, ever is.

We are all connected with nature in a much deeper way: our memories. For me no place holds greater memories than California’s Sierra Nevada. A mountain range that has defined my very being and taught me that nature is a way of making connections, especially with oneself and God. I have learned how to make these connections anywhere in nature, and even outside of “nature.”

I was on a long afternoon ride among the country roads, happy to be free of my allergies and the stress of the week. There was not anything to special about this ride; I was alone, the roads were quiet, the air warm with a cool breeze. Suddenly I was in Yosemite. The backcountry, the solitude, the beauty, the connections. The memory was not brought on by pictures or writing, it was the smell. Pine needles basking in the warm afternoon sun. That indescribable smell that flows all throughout the Sierra Nevada. Trail lunches under the shade of huge branches at the banks of a trickling creek; no one is around, it is you and your connections. In that moment you truly are connected, to everything around you. Here I stand, making those connections again; a reunion.

As I clip my foot back into the peddles I remember: Yosemite, I will be there soon.

I encourage you to stand outside and fell connected to everything. Recognize the impact you have on everything around you. More importantly the impact everything has on you.

How to Be Humbled

The humble man. He has become somewhat of a pariah in our would of selfishness. Hardly can he be taken seriously, for his demeanor is rather ambiguous. He is what he is, he accepts that. He has come to terms with his place in the world. He understands the purpose of his life and finds the joy in it. Praise does not make his work more valued; therefore, self-praise he does not fiddle with. Instead, he would rather enjoy his passionate life and be the encouragement of others.

How can we become the humbled man? It is a rather simple answer yet enigmatic; its application, the same: be humbled. In other words: be put in you place. People seem to us the phrase, “the, fill in the blank, is humbling,” to describe situations that are either not humbling at all or truly humbling but they don’t let it humble them. Take a man who sees a sunset and proclaims its vermillion colors as humbling. This is true, but is he willing accept that the sunset is a serine beauty that he will never understand? Is he willing to step down from his pedestal and allow this divine beauty to take a higher place? An even bigger question, when the sunset has gone, will he learn something?

Being humble does not mean devaluing yourself, rather it is understanding you place and accepting it. Furthermore, it is encouraging others and valuing their work. I am not a humble man, anyone could write on what a humble man is but only he has taken a life of living in such a way.

I find nature, in all of its divine beauty, to be the most humbling force of all. Sunsets, mountains, vast expanses of pristine forest, the single tree, the flowing river; all of these things have brought me to my knees in such a way to accept their place as greater than my own.

I encourage you to go into nature and become humbled by the beauty you will find. When you return let it change you.

As I sit here the birds a singing, the sun is rising, a magnificent new day is being crafted in truly capable hands. Experience this day from a new perspective.

“The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains – mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.”

Tonights Choice, Tomorrows Pleasure

It’s a cool night. A slight breeze creeps through the darkness, thin clouds hide the stars; finally it is quiet. It sounds cliché but it is the perfect end to a perfect day.

There are two ways to see a day as perfect and, naturally, two ways to see its end. You can wake up and think that something must happen to make your day perfect, or you can wake up and already see your day as perfect just because, well, it is.

The same goes with the end you can go to sleep dreading that you have to wake up tomorrow just to have another unsuccessful day. You could also go to sleep excited, because tomorrow you get to wake up and live one more perfect day.

The choice is yours; tomorrow is coming no matter how you chose to look at it.

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”

-John Muir

The Open Window

I am over joyed. There are birds singing their uniquely beautiful songs, as they have been since the early hours of the morning. I feel well rested and remarkably excited. I had forgotten this feeling of sunshine and a cool morning breeze that accompanies the return of spring. This is one reason why Oregon is my true home: unity with nature. It is something that I only use to feel when in some protected piece of wilderness hundreds of miles from my overcrowded Southern California home. Now, when I open my window in the morning, I hear the birds singing, hawks screeching, roosters calling, frogs croaking, wind blowing. As I lay in my bed I have to remind myself that I am not in a sleeping bag or a tent but in my room, at home; not a bad thing to have to do. The sounds of the morning are what inspire me to live in such a way that when I wake up each morning there is nothing I regret. To me, living here is like a perpetual backpacking trip, inspiration constantly trickles through my head, revitalizing my mundane thoughts.  The mountain cathedrals of Yosemite, how I long to dwell in you again.

Mountains and Wind

Once again, I found myself longing to return to the mountains. Don’t I always? Do the mountains not always pull my deprived soul into their sanctuaries of remedial tranquility; a certain mystique that constantly taunts those of us who can only truly live when quenched by the towering cathedrals that are the mountains?

Again, I found myself gazing into the foothills of the Cascades just twenty miles to the east. As I stood there in a trance, a crisp cold wind flowed across my cheek; suddenly my mind flooded with images of past experiences: Joshua Tree, Yosemite, Mt. Whitney, Grand Tetons. I was riddled with Goosebumps as I relived early mornings climbing on minuscule edges that shredded my fingertips on frozen Joshua Tree granite; sunsets watched below Mt. Whitney’s profound crest; frozen mornings enlightened by the vivifying backcountry sunrises of the Yosemite.

I was there, my body felt those memories. The wind struck a chord within my soul, releasing a flood of memories that reminded me of my need for the mountains. Still, there I stood gazing into the Cascades longing for my spirit to be filled; knowing it will, wondering when.