I’ve started walking a lot more than I did back in Kansas. It may be a boredom thing, because I have so much of that from the whole unemployed thing, but it may also be my body telling me it wants to get up and go out. I’m perfectly okay with that because I enjoy walking. I love hiking and exploring and seeing new things. I’ve gained a bigger appreciation for the natural aspect of the world while I’ve been out here. I’ve never lived this close to the Appalachian Trail, something I’ve had mental orgasms over for five years or so. Taking advantage of where I’m at is helping me think in ways I haven’t been able to convince myself to do since I lived in Europe. While being outside, I can just simply walk and ponder why things are the way they are. Why squirrels flick their tails so often when it doesn’t look like they need it for balance. Why some birds are okay with me walking close to them and others fly away as quick as possible. Why certain plants attract certain insects and not others. Why I’m walking and audibly talking to myself. All sorts of fun things.
I’ve started to take pictures of plants in a slightly serious way. While I lived in Spain, I loved photography. Not in the way that everyone “loves photography”, but I took actual pictures of ancient buildings, had them blown up, framed and sold for a huge markup. I think I’m starting to get back into that, and I know I’ll do great at it because I have an eye for perfection. I wish people still enjoyed film cameras because that’s what I learned, and also because I’m frightened of technology. I tend to unintentionally break things that need to be plugged in. I enjoy capturing the things that I see and being able to share them in a way that others who can’t be here can appreciate. Also, I love all things biological, especially plants. I love the colors that nature provides, the stories it has to tell, about how it is the way it is.
Nature is its own religious experience, one that is so profound and so expansive that I often wonder why we need any other. I’ve been caught up in thoughts while camping about how the trees evolved from what they originally were, to what they are now and to what they’ll become given a few million years more. When watching birds fly, I often think of the dinosaurs they came from, how the smaller ones outlasted the larger ones. Why turtles stopped at the stage they’re at now. How there are so many different types of one kind of flower. Which insects died off when they couldn’t keep up with natural selection. It’s all so vast and exciting, something that we have actually no control over, but at the same time, it’s something that we’re actively destroying.
But, while I’m out walking, I don’t think of anything negative. I don’t dwell on my mistakes, man’s mistakes, any mistakes. I just simply enjoy where I’m at, what I’m doing and where I’m going. It’s a time where I can be stuck in the now, taking in the nature I love and thinking about how what I’m seeing reached the point that the two of us came together. While being out in nature, I realize, over and over again, that this is MY god. This is what I’m here to respect and worship. This whole world of amazing architecture that grew on its own, with no external source save for the sun and maybe a space rock with proteins on it.
While thinking about this this morning, I remember a conversation I had with someone about what my arm tattoo means. The girl saw my ink and asked what it was supposed to mean, since it isn’t very obvious. The symbol is something I created in middle school and carried around in my head since. I told her the circle represents me, my place on Earth, my existence. The triangle is the future and whatever it does, all I can do is stand and accept it. In a way, it’s Death. It will come and I will embrace it. There won’t be anything I can do to stop myself from eventually dying and I’m at peace with that. She then asked about the leaves, what the point was.
The leaves are a constant reminder of what I am. I’m nothing more than an end product of natural selection, something that was made from eons of life and death and that I’m not any better or more important than seemingly simple oak leaves.
The reason I have this tattoo is because it’s a constant remind of my thoughts and what it took to get me here. The mental trials and tribulations I’ve endured. The hateful speeches I’ve been an audience to from the religious convincing me I’m going to burn in an afterlife I don’t believe in because of my convictions and reasoning. It reminds me of the weird ways I think and observe the world. The interactions people have with others, the interactions they have with themselves, and, most importantly, the interactions they have with the natural world. It reminds me to stop and enjoy what’s available to all of us, if only we’d just go outside and look at it for a few minutes a day.
I guess do my own sort of worship every day that I do this, and I make sure I do it at least once a day, rain or shine. I worship the knowledge and experiences that nature has gone through to be where it’s at today. I worship the smells, the sounds, the awe-inspiring patterns and order that is present in everything. I convince myself that I don’t ever need to take advantage of what the natural world is willing to offer, that I should respect it in every way that I can, because, it really is the only miracle that has ever existed, and it’s a damn good miracle at that.