We call each to other by our kinship as friends. I believe our pride should live in that common thread – we are “Friends on Earth”. We are bound to each other with a promise of working in harmony for the gifts the Earth provides. The gifts provided are alive and wonderful to to see for all of us. Those who visit it or live in it, or with each other and sharing our experiences – these are the places that bring us back to the natural world of wonder.
I thank each of you I have met so far through different purposes. As comrades of the outdoors, as professionals making a living, as parents, as children, and as companions on this spaceship we call Earth hurtling through time and space. The adventure of the unknown awaits and we fill our minds and souls with the experience of the voyage undertaken. The memories we create help define our navigation down the road by their purpose – and also by accident.
These paths are forged through the traditions of our friendships. Whether the path leads any of us into the wild does not matter because the wild is part of who we are as friends. As we live here surrounded by it’s beauty, we experience first hand the euphoria and calm it provides us. A need for more develops in each of us. For some it becomes an addiction, a compulsion, a preference. For others it’s a place visited but only for a short time, read in a book, seen on a screen, or described in oral tradition.
Maybe it’s because I have spent most of my life enjoying the outdoors that my living memories are filled with your faces. Those faces whose names haunt me at times making me uncomfortable as we speak. Perhaps it’s my fault for not paying close enough attention to that all important detail of our verbal language and should devise a method to provide better recall. When I sit and close my eyes though, it is not your names I hear, it is your words of encouragement and support which nourish me.
Your words and phrases are not alone in the darkness of my mind. Images and motion of your smiles, your laughter, your puzzled look, your scent, your gesture, your idiosyncratic and habitual behavior, the stories of your lives you have shared with me. These are the things which I will always carry with me. It is my hope that some of the things I have shared with you have become part of what you carry.
“I have not before sent these feelings and thoughts to anybody, but I know that I am speaking to one who by long and deep communion with Nature understands them, and can tell me what is true or false and unworthy in my experiences.” – John Muir
Recent memories will burn brighter than others and it is because of the path I am taking through my experiences with all of you that it is possible. Some of these cannot be articulated with written word and should only exist like those secret places we go physically or mentally for ourselves. Places I go and the people I meet are a wonderful gift I hope to continue to share with all of you. What you take of these experiences as your own are the only gifts I can afford to give you. My hope is that these experiences help change your path toward a better and brighter future for “Our Earth”.
Merry Christmas everyone!