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Friday, January 13

When Nature Inspires

Thanks to a free birthday day off that my firm allows all employees, I was able to start an extra long weekend today.  Because I didn't have to worry about hitting the office, I decided to catch up on some items in my Netflix instant queue.  I was so inspired by both, I have to share the recommendations with any Tribute readers out there. 

Last night, I watched a documentary produced by National Geographic, called The Appalachian Trail, or the AT as many hiking/outdoors aficionados would refer to it.  My first reaction was one of awe at the assortment of flora, fauna and landscapes available to those who take this trek.  On a recent trip to Colorado, two Ohio Valley natives and I discussed the grandeur of the Rockies in the context of how distinctively different they are from the Appalachians.  But, not once, would any of us utter a word about a lacking of any sort on the part of the Appalachians.  Nor could anyone argue that any of the rolling mountain ranges along the AT are lacking.  The images of the mountain landscape National Geographic offered were nothing short of breathtaking--and I don't even own a fancy TV that would've made them extra special.  The other thing that struck me about the thru-hikers (or those who undertake the entire trail) is that there is a distinct culture that has developed as a result of this trail, and it affects each and every hiker who takes to its paths.  Not only that, there are amazing samples of wildlife to also add to its charming existence.  For instance, in the segment of the trail that cuts through Virginia and the Shenandoahs, there are packs of wild horses that hang out along the trail.  According to the documentary, they came about simply as the result of some random horse escapes and comings together.  Isn't nature just awesome?  Left to its own devices, it's far more creative and complex than any man-made anything.

The other film I watched is called 180° South, and this film featured the journey of one adventurer (Jeff Johnson) in which he made a similar pilgrimage as that of two of his idols, Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkin, to Patagonia.  This film was great because it offered amazing images and scenery, but it also told a really interesting story of the climbing/surfing culture of the 1960s and the modern day culture of outdoors enthusiasts.  The really awesome message underlying this entire film is that nature is worth it.  It's worth putting everything down, it's worth fighting for and protecting and, most of all, it can offer some of the most rewarding gifts in return.  At the core of nature is a certain simplicity, compared to our incredibly fast-paced and technological world, and yet it takes a lot of hard work to achieve this simplicity as a human communing with nature.  The men (and women) featured in this film offer such inspiration for putting the hard work in and living the simplicity.

Maybe it's the New Year spirit, or the spirit of a new decade, but I see some serious potential for the adoption of some of the tenets from each of these films in my life.  Hope you can take a watch and walk away even half as blown away.   

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