From Patagonia‘s infant blog The Cleanest Line comes a parable of leading a group of 15-year-olds into the Grand Tetons. The kids do not know silence, do not respect the grandeur. At least, when they enter the woods.
I stay outside of their circle, the old guy who doles out advice, corrections, and bad jokes. Then, one day, leading the pack on our ascent of a remote peak in the Tetons, Jack guides us into a small sea of ripe wild fruit. Leaves like large, green, luminous plates shroud dense, luscious clusters of fat, wild huckleberries. Waist deep and wading through this abundance, Jack turns a glance over his shoulder, and with a quick, empurpled smile states simply, “God loves us.” I’m not religious, but I feel a current moving in his words: he knows already the blessings of wild places.
If we are worried about losing the next generation (and, hell, my generation) to the Internet and text messaging and MySpace, perhaps we needn’t be. Because those things can embellish lives, but they can’t give them meaning. And whether or not they think they need it, anyone can discover just how wondrous it is.
I’ve been guilty of pessimism, of giving up and thinking that maybe the best we can do is hold out hope that somehow people will find the Earth to be enough again someday, but this little tale reminds me that making the effort to drag some kids out there, to introduce them to the beauty of the real world, might be worth it.
“What did you hear?”
Creek. Trout leap. Rustle of leaves. Elk bugle. Screech of hawk.
The circle comes around. It’s Jack’s turn.
In the midst of these yet-unfolding sounds, Jack closes his eyes again to find his own.
“Simple,” Jack says. “I hear simple.”
He opens his eyes again and smiles, the stain of wild huckleberries on his teeth.