Nature and meSun, 23rd Apr '06, 8:15 pm::

Nature elicits the deepest, most innate thoughts in my mind. Beautiful ideas, primal awareness. Sitting five minutes on the edge of Lake Okeechobee, peering into the restless flora sprouting from 'neath ethereal freshwater, I realized my place in the world. I was at one with my environment. I was breathing, living, being. An earth-shaking wave of overconfidence swept me off my feet when I thought I figured out the answer to a question that has plagued and challenged mankind for eons: "Why are we here?" My answer: "To embrace nature." Took me a few minutes to consider that there must have been tons of people before me that thought the same. Turns out Einstein said, among other things, "... to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Hmmm, he said embrace too. I wonder if he ever went to Lake O.

We drove down to the Okeechobee KOA early Saturday morning. While it didn't faze my friends, to me, it seemed the drive was beautiful. I guess my senses heighten whenever I am outside my daily routine. Things just seem more alive. We setup the tents and that's when we met our camp-neighbors and their big cuddly Wolf! Yup, a real-life pet wolf, not in the least bit wild - perfectly tame. He stood up on his hind legs, put his paws on my shoulders, and licked my face when his owner told him to 'kissy.' I know my dad isn't into dogs, so I figure someday I can get a wolf instead. Right? Hehe. Apparently it's a tough job to take care of wolves. Nevertheless, I think I'm up to the challenge; probably 10-15 years from now when I have half-an-acre of chain-fenced enclosure to keep my canines in safely.

While there were a lot of fun activities to do within Koa grounds, I was more interested in driving around the big lake. I took a some pics during my 2.5 hour drive around the lake. It was definitely the most scenic drive I've ever taken. This whole area has some pretty interesting names for roads and places. Hooker Highway, a town called FrostProof, Lake Buffom, and many more. I drove counter-clockwise around the lake and saw a lot of farms full of cows and horses. Since I was driving full-speed, I could only take pics when I stopped. Passing through miles and miles of orange groves, I heartily breathed in the fresh air of the lovely countryside.

As I was crossing over the neverending concrete expressway through downtown Tampa towards St. Petersburg on my drive back home, I couldn't help but be amazed at how I was so close to the rural life just a few hours ago and how stiff and obstinate these tall buildings look compared to throngs swinging palm trees that line the big lake. I know my thoughts weren't too enlightening and neither were they revolutionary or brilliant. What made me smile was the fact that I was thinking about things other than materialistic goals. During the whole weekend, I didn't think about anything that I think of on a daily basis - no computers, no systems, no processes, no TV, no bars, no Home Depot. Just nature and me. And it felt good.

I think next time I want to take a diary and jot my thoughts down. Like I remember, I wanted to make a list of things that we think are really necessary, and then try to narrow down the list as much as we can. Say, if you were asked what all do you need this whole month, what would the list look like? What are the things you absolutely need during a typical month, without which you cannot survive? In addition to food, water, clothing, and shelter, I bet cellphones, cars, computers, and cable TV channels are on most people's list. Let's not forget toothbrush & paste, soap/shampoo, wallet full of cash, and above all, other people. What if it was just a week? Could you live without your money? How about a few days without soap or seeing any other human? What if you have 24-hours and absolutely nobody around and nothing other than water and the clothes you wear? No food, no car, no phone, no people. Just you and 86,400 seconds in which you try to keep your sanity. And what's the longest you can go like this? A few days? A week? Forever?!

Sometimes it's refreshing to think about these things instead of how many miles my car will go before I need to fill the tank again. Or how many people will show up at the next party I throw. Who cares if 100 people show up at your party if you can't even live without a toothbrush for a day?! Nature makes everyone feel so insignificant that they realize their true worth is not determined by petty measures of money, status, or beauty, but rather by their ability to survive and embrace nature.

Unsurprisingly, I do not have much respect for people who are incapable of enjoying nature in its most serene form. It's quite easy to be in awe of and be entertained by nature at its wildest, but if you cannot appreciate life just sitting idly by the beach or walking through a little trail between thick bushes, you're not my kinda person. I don't want to be a hermit in the Himalayas but I do know I want to spend a lot more time outside than inside as I grow older.

Sometimes that means fixing my lawn and other times it means going to the beach, skiing down a slope, or kayaking up a creek. If I'm lucky, it'll mean going to more places like Lake O in the near future. For now, the hum-drum of daily life beckons - the dryer is ready for the next load of laundry. I'll do that, you check out my Lake Okeechobee photos.

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