Some little highlights, in no particular order, of Washington!
Myself and three friends headed (way, way) west for five days to explore the beauty of the Evergreen State, flying to Seattle and then driving to Port Angeles, where we set up camp at a remote cabin in the woods, before exploring Forks, Olympic National Park, Rialto Beach, and the Hoh Rain Forest in particular.
The depth and range of beauty there was incredible. From the mountains to the forests to the ocean, to see with my own (and ever-developing) set of eyes the world around us as I've never seen it before was humbling and inspiring to say the very least. Many times the words of Thoreau came to mind:
it's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
And learn to see I have in the past few years of life. The simple things- the nature around us, the stars, the sunrises, the planet, the people we are closest to- if we cannot actively appreciate these things on whatever ground we stand, at home or far away, we cannot truly see the beauty of life- and without that, we can't touch meaning, or purpose, or the deepest happiness we could experience here.
I am learning how essential it is to remain present to all these things- to see that they alone are enough- to understand what a good and perfect gift life itself really is. Without the capacity to wonder what this life is about- and not stop wondering once we encounter fear or unknowns, which we always do- we lose the capacity to develop the wisdom we need to live and love fully. It is so critical to really engage and be open to this experience that we are having here, as human beings- and as spiritual beings, who sense deeper things within ourselves- to come really and truly alive.
And nature certainly does awaken us to it, reminding us to do more than look, but to really see. She herself is a metaphor for every way in which our Creator works, and another thing I have learned is that it is one thing to see the world scientifically (it is a great thing), and one thing to see the world artistically (that is also a great thing), but is it something else entirely to see it spiritually and creatively. That is the whole thing: to understand that we can explain- and what a wonderful endeavor it is to try to- but not account for this universe. Realizing this has been the most essential way to an unshakable non-attachment to it- and to anything in it- and a simple appreciation for it instead.
Creation awakens a sensation in the heart that is already there, a sense of eternity, to look out into a world so much older and more evolved than anything any man himself will ever become. To see this, and to crave staring deeply into that mystery, changes everything. It has, for myself, literally awakened the possibility of love, of happiness, of creativity, and of fearlessness in every moment, of the ability not just to enjoy the stimulating parts of life, which distract and consume so many people, but the most mundane parts: the coming home, the returning to 'reality'- which is actually almost the best part, once we realize that our time does not belong to us, and we are free to see this life, in its entirety, however we choose.
We can then begin creating both the outer and inner reality we actually want, day by day, little choice by little choice, so that the adventure of life is a real and daily thing. There is something beautiful and invigorating about the process of slowly realizing that the way you experience anything is the way you experience everything: that it is what you think you are and not what you think this external world is that will ultimately determine your entire life.
And to see it with the same wonder all the time, because you see that wonder- and freedom, contentment, happiness, love too- exist nowhere unless they first exist within you, is to be alive, and in love, and free.