An Open Letter to My Readers
Such a simple word, but one that I think has the power to change one’s life for the better.
I have been blessed in that, from a young age, I have lived an outdoor life. Whether it has been exploring the woods, casting a line into a farm pond, or staring up at the stone monoliths of Yosemite Valley, nature and travel have always been a part of who I am. And I believe I’m better off because of it.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain
That probably wasn’t the first time you heard that quote. This time, however, pause for a second and think about what he was really saying. Sure, he was using travel and exploration as a metaphor for taking chances in all aspects of life, but maybe this was because he understood that being outside, seeing new places and things, are truly life-changing experiences.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to the heart of Africa or simply the local woods.
I’ve heard the phrase “nature’s classroom” used to describe the learning process that takes place away from civilization. I can only hope that more people will learn the lessons that I have from nature, and the only way to do this is simply to go.
Nature and travel teach you not only about other places and things, but also about yourself. I’ve learned that the world can be harsh and ugly, and that sometimes the only thing you can do is sit there and take it. But I’ve also seen things more beautiful than I could ever describe.
There’s no excuses to be made such as “I don’t have the time” or “It costs too much money.”
I’ve been on trips that lasted several weeks and cost thousands of dollars. I’ve also spent an afternoon exploring the river near my college where the only expense was driving 10 miles to get there.
I learn something new every time I’m outdoors. Sometimes it’s a new revelation that I hadn’t expected. Sometimes it’s the reaffirmation that, just like the Discovery Channel slogan, the world is just awesome.
See you out there.
John SittlerFranklin College
August 29, 2012