Leaving things better than you found them
My parents divorced when I was quite young — about three, and my mom remarried my step dad a few years later.
By the time I was seven years old, my dad was taking us on back-packing trips into the high sierras. At first I hated it — carrying the heavy back packs, no tv, leaving my favorite teddy bear at home because I couldn’t fit him into my pack …
But as I got older, I learned to appreciate this time in nature with my step-father who knew how to survive in the wilderness, how to read the weather, how to behave if bears found your campsite, how to nourish yourself with food to give yourself the right energy for hiking in high altitudes, how to read a topographical map.
Some of my best memories from childhood are of those backpacking trips in the summer.
And it’s probably why I have an affinity for and love of nature, the wisdom of trees that have grown up over hundreds of years, the changing personality of water — sometimes soft and quiet, sometimes rushing and destructive, the smell of the earth, the brilliance of stars on a mountaintop far away from city lights where you can actually see the Milky Way splash across the sky.
I appreciate the majesty of life because of my close relationship to nature.
We would pack in all our food, our clothes, our shelter, a book to read perhaps, and my dad would bring some “adult” treats like wine or whisky.
“If you can carry it, you can bring it,” he would say.
And when it came time for us to leave our campsite and head back home, we would make sure that we didn’t leave one piece of garbage behind — packing out everything we packed in.
Not only that, but if another camper had left something behind, my dad would make sure we packed that out too.
“Make sure you leave it behind better than you found it,” he instructed us.
And as we hiked back down the mountain trail, we knew the next campers who came in behind us would get to enjoy the trees and the rivers and the stars just as much because we left a clean campsite.
People who see the beauty of the world we live in and have a vision for how it can be even better.
How to make people healthier and safer; how to create living legacies through art and photography; how to resolve conflicts and facilitate peace; how to improve development by making it more sustainable; how to improve the way people learn and live and grow.
If this is you, I invite you to join the Creative Impact Studio — an online community for the women who are leading the companies, teams and movements making our lives better; leaving our world better than they found it.
This is an invitation-only community, and you can get your invitation right here.
Originally published at www.taraagacayak.com on August 29, 2017.