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“If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”
—Barry Lopez
(as Badger, in Crow and Weasel)


To be nobody but yourself -- in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.
- e. e. cummings


Nature's Gift

--------When I was a young college student I was offered the opportunity to spend a week in Colorado with my parents and several couples from their square dance club. Before accepting this offer I had to get my facts straight. Just what kind of living arrangements would we have? What would the physical setting be like? What would the daily activities include? Just how much freedom would I have? After all, at any age, wouldn’t a week of square dancing with ones parents be somehow less than the perfect vacation?
-------- I learned that the others would be engaged in square dance activities much of the time. My time would be largely my own and the setting would be extraordinary! It sounded too good to be true. I was excited about the prospects of time shared with only the trees, mountains, streams, and animals - alone with nature, a pad, a pen, and my guitar. I envisioned transcribing the call of the mountain stream as it recited its poetry to me. I eagerly anticipated the time when I would cast wishes upon a thousand stars as they shined brightly, free from the distortion of the city lights and the distractions of man's fury. It wasn't long until my mind was made up, my heart was prepared, and my bags were packed.
-------- When we arrived I immediately checked out my mountain sanctuary. I was free to roam -- free to become one with the awe-inspiring landscape - surrounded by mountains on every side. I set out to accomplish my peaceful goals - guitar in hand, pen and pad on my knee - soaking up the wondrous sounds of God's creation. It was, without a doubt, most inspiring.
-------- As the week went on my inspiration grew. I became more and more impressed with God's creation as I felt compelled to spend less and less time alone in the trees. My pen gave way to conversation and my guitar gave way to the sounds of my new friends as they talked, told jokes, and enjoyed the mornings, afternoons, and evenings of square dancing. By week's end, I'd even found myself in the midst of a challenge to learn one of their dances.
-------- A caravan of cars, linked together by citizens band radios, left the resort area and began a journey homeward filled with the playful banter of moments we shared in laughter. One by one our caravan dwindled as we each went our separate way. Upon my return home I began to share the experience with those around me. I spoke of God’s creation with great fondness. The conversation was almost entirely about the friends I had made and the times we shared. Reviewing the words I had recorded on my pad, I discovered that what had begun as a tribute to nature revealed a testament to friendship and humanity. When my photos returned from the lab, I brushed aside the breathtaking landscape photography and searched out poses and candid shots of the people I had met, wondering just who I would or wouldn't see again.
-------- In retrospect I realize that I accomplished my initial goal. I had sought a situation through which I would draw creative inspiration from nature. This is exactly what I found. What I did not expect to learn was my most profound revelation. No matter how low the valley, how high the mountain, or how flat the plain -- no matter how dry the desert or how deep the sea – nature’s greatest gift, available to each and every one of us is each other!

© 2004 - The Trill House