Thursday, January 27, 2011

This Trail

Was reading this month's Tucson edition of Fitness Plus magazine, specifically the Backcountry Life section, and read a beautiful quote by Marty Anderson, 62, a Tucson resident and avid hiker.

The wilderness is so neutral and indifferent; you define yourself against that backdrop, that mirror. By humbling me, the wilderness expands me. That's what I strive for, trails or no trails.

Yes, exactly!

While his choice of the word wilderness fits in well here, let's go a step or two further and say the Earth, or the Universe. If these things are indifferent to us, if we acknowledge they owe us nothing--not life, not riches, not happiness--how then do we see ourselves when we hold ourselves up against that backdrop? Does the humbling realization of our relative insignificance have the potential to enrich our lives?

These things, while indifferent to us, are what sustain us. It's an inspiring thing, for me, to consider our speck of a place in a vast universe with mysteries we will never unravel, on an amazing planet that we are so fortunate enough to exist upon, that keeps us alive in a miraculous and delicate balance.

It's part of that balance in which we now play a role. For centuries, and especially in the last, we chose to dominate the Earth. To conquer it. To treat it as though it owed us more than our fair share. And now, with indifference, it is giving us more than we bargained for.

How do we see ourselves when we hold ourselves up against that backdrop?