We’d all be better off with a walk in the woods

I just returned from a two-day hike along the Appalachian Trail with my two sons. We drove to the parking area and headed out, hiking the trail for several hours until we decided to stop for the night. Then set up camp and had dinner. And when it got dark, we went to bed. The next morning we got up, packed up and headed down the trail back towards the start where the car was.

It was a wonderful time out in the woods. A time to be with my teenage boys. It was time in which there were moments when we heard nothing but nature and no trace of humanity. Those are beautiful moments. Quiet moments. We saw deer and squirrels. We were even greeted by a skunk in the early morning when we got up. We just waited for him to do what scavenging he wanted to do nearby, keeping a watchful eye on him to ensure we wasn’t getting too close to our camp, and us being too close to him.

Every time I take a trip like this, I learn some things. Here’s what I learned on this trip:

  1. It’s a reminder really – we aren’t in control. We never have been. Doesn’t matter how much technology, know how, or anything else. We aren’t in control – especially when we are in nature. When we go into nature we are reminded that we are a part of nature, not in control of it. That’s scary for a lot of people, I think. Too many people have an addiction to the idea of control in their lives and controlling the world around them. And it’s ruining their lives because when control is most important, you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on around you. You often end up being too busy trying to maintain the facade of control. It’s foolish.
  2. Put your device down. Stop listening to the fear mongering of your preferred personalities in the media who keep telling you that some group out there is a danger to you and the way you believe the world is. These people who you are being told are your enemies are not a threat to you. When you spend time in nature, you learn something important. It’s called live and let live. We didn’t approach the skunk, we were aware of him. I even took a picture of him from a distance. We walked around the camp and parallel to the critter. Because the point is to not spook a skunk or make him feel like we are a threat to him. You keep your distance. You pay attention. But mostly, you go about your business and watch how what you are doing might have an impact on the rest of nature. That’s what he was doing too. The boys kept reminding me that we are to leave no trace of having been where we set up camp. That means do what you need to do, but make sure you clean up after yourself so as not to burden nature or anyone else. It’s live and let live by another name. So what does this have to do with the the earlier point? In nature, no creature gives a damn about people’s sexuality. Why would they? Creatures in nature don’t care about what books you want to ban. They don’t care about all the things that people do to give themselves the false sense of control over others. They just go around them to do what they are going to do. To most creatures, you’re just a hindrance – something they need to work around. And I can guarantee this – to those of you who want to impose your beliefs on others, people will do the same thing as any other creature. They will figure out a way around you.
  3. We don’t have enough quiet time. We are constantly inundated with noise. One of the things I have dealt with from long COVID is a great sensitivity to noise and artificial light. There are stores I can’t go into any more because of their lights and the sounds in the stores. I keep noise-cancelling AirPods with me for other stores and glasses that are designed for those with light sensitivity – and I use these quite often. But man oh man, can I just tell you that we are surrounded with unending supplies of noise and artificial light! Being in nature kills so much of that. But even still, it takes a few miles of hiking from the major roads to get to a point that you can’t hear the traffic anymore. Often it’s a large truck, or a motorcycle, or a loud car that you’ll end up hearing drive down the road for what seems like miles on end. And you just wonder about that. Why so much noise? Why so much artificial light? It just feels like imposing in another way. And again, in nature, the creatures figure out a way around it.
  4. We humans devote far too much energy and attention to things that just don’t matter and for the most part have no direct impact on any of us. Whether its the culture wars, or whose running for president months out from an actual primary in some far off state that we don’t have a say in, to whatever some celebrity is doing, to who knows what, we spend far too much time worrying about things that we shouldn’t and we have to fight against things that shouldn’t be happening in the first place. It seems as though there are some humans who just seem intent on being cruel to others and to nature. I don’t understand why. I also know that there needs to be a response and an effort to stop the cruelty too because these cruel actions do impact people and their lives. It seems like those that impose cruelty on others need counseling rather than the ability to impose their beliefs on others. To those who insist on being cruel to others here’s what I learned from my hike – There’s always a way to get around you, to be subversive to your efforts, to offer an alternative to your cruelty. Not that you are going to listen. That’s your problem – you don’t listen. I think this goes back to the whole control thing. So be it. Just don’t be surprised when others refuse to go along with your cruelty. And remember – you’re only in charge for a limited time, your control over others is for a short time and it’s never as absolute as you tell yourself. And cruelty can be replaced – there often isn’t much incentive to keep it going once people get past the fear of how they might be hurt by cruelty. At some point people will just rise up and discard the cruelty and those who impose it. People don’t want cruelty. They want to live. And often, they just want to be left alone to live their lives. You hearing about them existing is not some kind of persecution. Imposing cruelty on others is persecution. Understand the difference.

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