“he’s got the whole world in his hands”
I’d like to think of myself as an environmentally aware person, my family recycles and as long as I can remember we have. I wore hammy down clothing growing up, and my parents walked to work and my siblings and I walked to school. It’s easy to do little things that make you feel like you are being environmentally conscious. Well let’s be serous, when I was little taking the recycling out made me feel like a super hero. I really thought that every carton of milk I put in the green trash can of our kitchen was literally saving the world, form some un-know doom, as I dropped it in. I even vaguely remember singing the bible song he’s (God) got the whole world in he’s hands, and equating it to the small deeds my seven year old self was doing. Although my one milk carton a week might not have been saving the world, my parent’s constant reminder to not waste ingrained a scene of awareness in me. My Dad loves the outdoors, we spend the summers in a tiny cabin in Maine on a lake. There aren’t enough bed rooms for all of my cousins, so we slept in tents or under the stars. When I was eight my uncle built a tree house with large swings and ropes in climb. If we weren’t in the lake, we were in the tree. The tree house had a password and everything. trees were my childhood. Although, until middle school, I wasn’t aware that trees were a major life line for the environment, I always had a respect for them.
But my passion for saving the world as a seven year old did died down. By the time high school rolled around I didn’t think much about the environment. I still recycled, but out of habit, I still walked to school, but because of lack of a car, and I wore hammy downs because my sister really did have good style in my 15 year old opinion. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school when I received a scholarship to go on a three week back packing outward bound trip on the Appalachian trial, that I renewed my so called passion to ‘save the world’ and love for sleeping under trees in the summer heat.
I spent three weeks, with a sixty pound pack, two tee shirts, an old baseball cap, a good pair of boots, and twelve other high school kids form across the state. Over that time I lived with the bare minimum and the trees. Every day we practiced the ‘leave no trace’ policy. We were taught and now I believe, that if your lucky enough to live on the trial or really anywhere on this earth, we should clean up after our selves. It’s not fair to the environment around us to harm it, when all it does to us, is give. Everywhere we went, we would make it better then we left it. As if to take away any trace that humans had ever been there. Kind of like a thank you gift. We wanted to thank the environment, the trees, the trail and everything around us for being a great host, just like you’d thank a host at a dinner party. The last three days we spent on what was called a solo. We were dropped in an isolated spot, where we were left with a few litters of water, a small food pack, a tarp, a sleeping bag, and a small journal. They took away our head lamps, our watches, and our changes of clothes. We were left with our selves, what we needed, and the trees. In the front of the journal there were a few prompts, some about he trip, some inter personal questions about leadership, and one that I really think relates to how my environmental opinion changed. The book asked, how the trail took care of us? How did our surrounding take care of us, provide for us, and nurture us the way things in our day to day life at home did? The trees where our homes. One rope and a tarp between two trees was home. Trees kept us safe. They held our bear hangs, keeping our food out of reach from hungry bears. The trees took care of us. A place to rest. They provided the shade that made back packing in august bearable. Trees dried our cloths. After we washed our two shirts in the Delaware River, they hung on trees to dry. They were everything we saw for three weeks. The trial provided for us more than the things we cared in our packs. On the third day of my solo, I think I started to go a bit crazy. I hadn’t seen a living person in about 70 hours. I had been left alone with prompts and my thoughts. I thanked the tree I was leaning ageist. And I realized how much the trail, the trees, and the river had given me. Maybe I was a little hungry and going a little insane, but I meant it. They really made my trip what it was and I would hate to see what I fell in love with, the trees that nurtured me, not be there for my children.
In the book the Lorax by Doctor Seuss the Lorax says “I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”. The Lorax is a small animal like creature who lives in the woods and advocate for the plants and animals that humans are harming. For just that moment sitting under the tree, somewhere in the Delaware water gap I felt like the Lorax. I wish that was a feeling I was able to bring to the forefront of my life on a more regular bases. Although one person maybe cannot make a huge difference, unlike my seven year old self believed, those three weeks inspired me to want to make a differences and inspire other to do the same. So that collectively we can.
Just like the bible song says “he’s got the whole world in his hands” but really, we as human kind, have the whole world in our hands, its just what we do with it, that counts.
Seuss. The Lorax. New York: Random House, 1971. Print.
Dickinson college class of 2017