A gust of wind blew, but not a thing seemed to stir. How odd, I thought to myself, shivering as the gale sent spikes of cold into the depths of my body. As if to spite the fact that I wore three sweaters, every swirling movement of the air seemed determined to make me freeze. But where I was made all the discomfort go away.
I have traveled to many places, from the towering beauty of the German Alps to the vibrant colors that make up the reefs of Fiji. However, I have found that there is something unique to every place I go, something that makes every trip worthwhile. Often when I think about it, I find the varieties of the Earth we live on stunning. And that is more fact than opinion.
The desert was not new to me; I take trips with my family to the high desert of Nevada twice a year. Each year we have a great time, and I have learned that, if you look hard enough, the desert is not such a bland place after all. But the desert I found myself in now was different. Every part of it seemed to scream, “I am not dull in the slightest! And if I have to show that to you by sprouting the weirdest trees you have ever seen, I will!”
Yes, I was in Joshua Tree National Park. I had an odd sensation, my brain knowing that I was on Earth, but all of my senses saying I wasn’t, that I was on Mars, with giant rock formations jutting out of the landscape all around me to accompany the trees from another world. The deathly stillness didn’t help my perplexity either.
And yet, it was wondrous. It didn’t matter that the none of it seemed to make sense, it just was. There were so many different hues of yellow, green, and brown, all intermingling to form an extraterrestrial landscape. Stacked boulders told tales of the earliest days of existence, the trees a constant chorus of agreement.
We spent the day driving to different trailheads in the park, hiking a little ways up them, and climbing boulders until our hands were raw. We walked through valleys, canyons, and washed our dusty faces in a crystal clear pond that sat in a small oasis. It was an experience I will never forget.
As the sun began to disappear behind the horizon, I climbed one last boulder, the largest one I could find. Once at the top, I sat down and closed my eyes. The wind whirled around me, blowing my hair over my eyelids, but at that moment, it couldn’t make me cold. I was immersed in the full glory of the Earth, and the only sense I had was one of deep understanding and peace. A feeling of serenity.
Later that evening we were sitting by the fireside of the cabin we were staying in. I looked outside the window and found myself gazing upon an endless expanse of stars. Among them was Orion, the full constellation. I thought back on the calm I had felt as I sat on top of the rock, and I thought to myself, How odd.
There is something in nature that can only be accessed through a search, a search in which one must ignore the stress of the world and delve deeper into the connection between man and Mother Nature. It is a feeling of peace, of calm, of understanding. It is a feeling of serenity.