“When you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.” – Ram Dass
Where did time go? July was absolutely good to me. Can I say happy birthday month? I think yes! In my search of living a life more purposeful in a world full of corporations and fast living, I feel like I can run to the end of Earth just to experience that feeling of undiscovered fresh air.
But what good does it do if I cannot grasp anything of value to bring back with me into the ruckus of the city? And so life does it again. She slaps me awake and reminds me that the destination is not always the prize, and that the journey itself is where life happens.
It is an easy thing to forget, but life will remind us in the most peculiar of ways…the real question is, will our hearts be open and ready to listen?
I ventured out into the Sequim / Port Angeles area a few weeks back with my boyfriend hoping to walk new trails, from the Dungeness Spit to Hurricane Ridge, in the Olympic National Park. But like a beautiful twist of fate, the real magic happened with unexpected encounters along the way.
ONE PERSON’S LOSS, ANOTHER ONE’S GAIN
After driving around in search of an empty campground near Hurricane Ridge (our next-day destination), we finally found an empty spot. And with it, we found a note:
“We left. Too noisy!”
Well no wonder those people left. Their camp neighbors were inconsiderate, drunk, loud party animals! How rude.
Wrong! Sure, they were self-proclaimed ‘rednecks’, laughed so loudly, had a beer in hand at all times, and their rugged exterior may have been one hundred percent easy to judge, but their rich conversations quickly made me realize how special they were.
They knew the mountains and the wildlife like the back of their hand, and were so happy and excited to share that knowledge. And the way they spoke about their life, with so much love and passion, was truly admirable. They may not have been perfect people or even perfect citizens, but their appreciation of cultures and respect toward every living being humbled me.
I am happy that we did not let a sticky-note determine our experience that night…And I am embarrassed to admit that an old me would have quickly labeled them based on their “Rednecks” sticker plastered on their pick-up truck. An old me would have put up a guard to protect my brown self from the close-mindedness that comes along with that label. What a stupid stereotype.
…But life works in special ways. That night our conversations led us into the late hours of the night. Our camp neighbors turned out to be some of the nicest, welcoming, and loving people we’ve met. How could the previous campers miss such beautiful spirits?
DON’T FORGET THE LOCALS
After exploring Hurricane Ridge the next day, and as we left Sequim, a little shop caught our attention. But see, it wasn’t the first time we noticed and drove past this shop on our trips to the Olympic Peninsula. That day was different, though.
We stopped by.
An older man greeted us as we walked in, and he began the usual store clerk conversation. So where’re you folks from? Did you check out the Lavender Festival?
I normally get a bit annoyed if store clerks ask me too many questions while I try to carry out my ritualistic habit of shopping. I always wonder if they spark a conversation as an excuse to follow me around and make sure I’m not shoplifting. In fact, that’s the first thing that came to mind. How dare you, store clerk?
No. How stupid of me.
That day I was reminded something I try to preach: Do not forget the locals; engage with them. This is something I say I will do when I travel overseas and submerge myself into cultures. But on this day, life slapped me yet again. If I cannot practice this simple lesson in our very own towns, what makes me think I’ll do it in a foreign place? And why should I question somebody’s niceness, ever?
So I welcomed that man’s conversation instead of giving him my usual one-word responses, and boy did he surprise me with his wonderful stories. Not only was he well traveled, but he also spoke perfect Spanish and had each country’s accent down to a T. Wonderful! I walked out of there very happy with my purchases and grateful to have shared stories with this man. I will be back.
We drove off that weekend in silence. I sat in my seat running every conversation through my head, trying to figure out what to make of the weekend. Ever had such deep conversation with someone, and later replay it all in your head with a stupid-happy face? Yeah, that was me.
I was reminded that people are wonderful…but our egoistic self will always try to judge too quickly. Sometimes we may even let other people’s opinions be the determining factor in what could have been a beautiful friendship or relationship. We let gossip or stereotypes get in the way of building our own feelings toward others.
This is something I have been very aware of for some time, and I am very cautious about letting myself get wrapped up in useless gossip. But it happens. We are human, and the Ego can be powerful if we let it.
And so I invite you to turn people into trees. Just as Ram Dass mentions in the opening quote above, appreciate people for who they are. Never mind the stereotypes, never mind the gossip, never mind their exterior – simply allow them. Every human has a story. If we open our heart now and be ready to listen, we might just be surprised with what beautiful stories come knocking at our door.
I love trees without questions, without judgement…and so, I will practice loving people and hope that you, too, will practice turning people into trees.
Love and Respect,
PS: Below are photos from our weekend trip to the Dungeness Spit and Hurricane Ridge. We had a wonderful encounter with a pretty little being that you wont want to miss =) Enjoy! <3
The Dungeness Spit
She is nestled at the edge of Sequim, WA. This site never gets old. We visited once before but did not walk to the lighthouse. So, we said we’d be back to walk the ten miles. It’s such an awesome little spot!
So this ten-mile walk (round trip) is not exactly exciting. And it’s longer than it seems! Below is the last stretch of the spit, where the lighthouse was finally in sight. Long beach walk + crashing waves + very little sleep the night before = perfect equation for a nap! I was tempted…
We learned our lesson from our last hike to Goat Lake, and packed plenty of water. BUT…we did not pack snacks, though we had a car full of food. Hello!? Clearly we were sleep deprived and, by the end of the walk, extremely hungry. Haha.
So be forewarned — though the lighthouse does have drinking water and a bathroom, it does not have vending machines (WHAT? I was hungry and was secretly hoping for at least a vending machine…Silly rabbit.)
That night we camped at Altair Campground, near the Elwha River. This is where we met our awesome camp neighbors. I’ll get better about taking portraits of strangers I meet during our adventures =) That would be a fun series of posts…hmmmm…
Only the most amazing place in the Olympic National Park! Holy smokes! An absolute must-visit.
But do hear me out — please do not step outside of the trails. I normally like to break rules, but natural meadows are rare with all the deforestation and what-nots, that stepping on the wildflowers can cause permanent damage. Plus you never know what cute little critters are sleeping under the plants.
And the wildlife?! It was everywhere! I was so excited! Keep scrolling down…
There was so much fog this day, which made this place completely amazing! Was I in a dream? I have to say I was super stoked to be walking in fog, high up in the mountains…without snow! Hell yes, PNW summers!
Coming here on a sunny day would probably be a completely different experience. I heard a lot of people complaining about the fog. I guess there were some really spectacular views that we didn’t get to see.
Oh well, I was too busy enjoying the fog and this right here beauty to care…
But, see, now I must come back soon!
What a beautiful encounter.
And do you spy the deer below? Only a few feet away from her, not photographed, was daddy and fawn. The perfect little family!
…So happy, I levitate (hehe).
Thank you for reading <3 Until next time!