Insignificance Found in the Pacific Northwest
As I sit here writing, I’m at a loss for words that are descriptive enough, wanting to truly convey to you the wonder and beauty that is the Pacific Northwest. To those who have not yet experienced the remarkable upper left portion of our country, I am terribly sorry. But, I beg you not to let this journal be your only encounter with it, for I will fail to do it proper justice. Grab your best cup of joe, throw on some mellow tunes (I suggest Bon Iver or the like) and take a journey with me to my homeland.
Do you long to stare and wonder into the unknown that hides beneath the vastness of the Pacific Ocean? Watching waves crash upon mountainous rocks sitting at 200 feet tall, bursting out of the earth’s crust? Where forests meet their end on cliffs hanging above the ocean? Cool temperatures and overcast skies will invoke the mind and heart to sit and ponder the beauty of it all. Even though these beaches aren’t bare, they feel unadulterated, untouched. Wilderness running free.
Gaze into the ocean. Feel the wind on your back as it tussles and wrestles with the branches of the evergreens behind you. Overcast skies are giving way to drizzles of rain, as they drip onto your skin. Breathe in the crisp, salty air. Be still as you hear each wave crash into the rocky sand before you with a strength unmatched.
I can’t help but realize how minuscule and powerless I am to these forces. It’s in that recognition of being completely powerless compared to their whims that I’ve found ultimate freedom. I rarely feel this free. In this moment I have the full capacity to recognize that these untamed waves could overcome me at any time of their choosing. I am surrendered completely to their will; as the tide comes in I must obey their prompting and find higher ground, or be swept away to sea.
Drive two hours inland and you’re back in the city. Now take a look up. Look around you. Surrounding you are fortresses of solitude and unyielding power, the Cascade Mountains. They surround you. No matter where you are they are constantly reminding you of their presence. Fortresses, dividing the east from the west.
Their power lies not only in their grand stature, but also in their explosive nature. Jagged edges of earth coming together to form volcanoes capable of destruction. Stare at them. Recognize that within them lies the capability to eradicate anything in their path. Soak in the magnitude of their strength. Your efforts against them are futile. For they are truly free.
Now imagine yourself winding down the highway through a forest of trees. A green so rich and so vibrant will overtake your eyes. Let green encompass you. Vast forests, filled with millions of evergreens, are looming all around. Stand within their presence. Their days have far outnumbered yours. With millions of miles of forest, it seems as if their depths are endless. Their power lies within their boundlessness. Forests capable of swallowing you whole. In their midst you are lost. Take a deep breath. Breathe in the freshest of air you’ve ever breathed. You are breaking free.
In their vastness, magnitude, and endlessness I am once again reminded how small I am. I am only a passer-by, a visitor trespassing on their beauty. For their strength knows no bounds. Their beauty is far grander than anything I could hope to be.
Out here in DC, amongst the decision makers and power players, I often feel that I am in the center of the world. This is where we write bills, lobby Congress, and hobnob with those of equal or greater status. Where we strive endlessly for status and power.
Too often I find myself getting too caught up in this mentality. Getting lost in my own grand view of myself. Oh, how at times I desire to feel big and powerful. Then I’m reminded of home. I think of the mountains, the ocean, the forest, and recognize that I cannot, nor will ever, possess the strength or the magnitude of their power. Compared to these forces I am utterly powerless and insignificant. As I begin my journey back to recognizing my real lack of power and stature, the pressure heaped upon my shoulders is removed. Anxiety is put at bay, as I find rest in my insignificance.
We may have big titles and powerful jobs but let the grandeur and beauty of the Pacific Northwest remind us to find rest. And, most importantly, allow it to free us up to move in humility instead of power, recognizing how truly insignificant and small we are. No matter where we sit in line to the thrown of power we will never be capable of the power found in the great outdoors.
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