If, then we would indeed restore mankind by truly Indian, botanic, magnetic, or natural means, let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our own brows, and take up a little life into our pores. Walden, Henry David Thoreau
Imagine coastal granite being eroded by the same glacier water that shaped it thousands of years before. That water, still cold from the Labrador current off the coast of Maine, still slowly erodes small millimeters of granite away into the sea. I see a group of young rock climbers scale these flat edifices with grace and peace. About 15 minutes prior, the smaller child was discussing his ADD and seemed unable to keep his yapper closed. However, they are quiet now, as their focus has shifted from themselves to the piece of granite they claw at for dear life [click on the photos for full size]. Shifting back, moving away from the granite known as Otter Cliffs, I see they are only a microcosm of the beautiful neighboring piles of granite of Mount Desert Island.
Acadia National Park, based mainly on Mount Desert Island, was the first National Park East of the Mississippi. The peninsula is composed of granite mountains, luscious green forests, and open blue sea that protrudes into the Gulf of Maine. I came to Acadia for probably the same reasons that those rock climbing kids were sent by their parents, to engage with nature and be active. As I read about Acadia during my time in NYC and Boston, I knew I wanted to feel the resonance of the beckoning activities that called my name. I find this to be my natural anxiety therapy and allows me to concentrate on all the wonderful things outside of my Self. As I mentioned in my last post, having the space and clarity to listen to my heart and feel the resonance of nature’s power was very important. Heeding the words of Thoreau, I was eager to let life into my pores and absorb energy from this wonderous land.
Hiking Dørr Mountain
I experienced the resonance I sought during my first morning when I scaled Dorr Mountain. As I ascended the mountain, the second tallest in Acadia, I bumped into strangers as we exchanged open smiles and refreshing “Hellos”. It is humbling to meet people that are so keenly aware of other beings and nature’s presence. In our society, it is so easy to get lost in the urban jungle. Just a week before I was in bustling New York City where I bumped shoulders with hundreds of businessmen and women, and locked eyes with only a few all day, but that is life in the city. When hiking anywhere you start making connections with various folks along the unbeaten path; since you rarely see others and are sharing the same path, you connect in the joy of nature in front of you. Connecting in this joy is special when you have others to enjoy it with. You may find yourself alone on a trail, but you are never alone. Life unfolds in front of you as long as you have an open heart. When you are constantly locked in routine or are surrounded by people in it, you rarely get a chance for spontaneous interaction, something I yearn for.
Spontaneous interactions – NYC to Maine
Balaga is made for spontaneous interaction. As our world gets more connected than ever, it’s more important to remain connected with other humans, especially in fast moving 21st century.
An example comes from my time spent in New York City for the Fourth of July weekend. During my stay, I told my friend Vasti I wanted to find this breakfast cart (food truck) operated by an old chap named Harry. Harry and I have never met, but I had found him through this random comic guy named Nick Gallo on a social media app called Vine. With the app, Nick makes six second videos on an account named HarrysBreakfastSpecial where he usually asks Harry for a Bacon, Egg, and Cheese, and Harry replies, “Okay!”
I knew the chances were slim to meet him (especially since I didn’t talk to or ask Nick), but it didn’t keep me from keeping my ears and eyes open for this cheerful old man selling breakfast sandwiches. Then on my second morning in NYC, I found myself scrambling down 50th avenue looking for a decent breakfast joint. I remember sitting down next to the sidewalk to let the hasty businessmen and women past me. I sat down, pulled out my iPhone and started googling breakfast cafes in the area. Then out of nowhere, I hear a voice much like that of Harry’s. I look up and see this old man serving up breakfast sandwiches to the busy 6th Ave clientele. I couldn’t believe what was in front of my eyes! It was as if God had said, “Put down your phone and seek what’s right in front of you.” It was Harry!!! I could not believe out of all the food trucks in New York, I had actually discovered his cart out of the blue. Things like this are too special to enjoy alone, so after I ordered my coffee and bacon, egg, and cheese, I told him I knew Nick.
“Oh, hey you know Nick? How’s he liking California?” Harry replied.
“Um, good I think. ” I told him, since I had never even met Nick.
We continued our conversation, as he explained how he had gotten to meet Nick, and that he hadn’t spoken to him in some time after Nick moved to California. Before I left, I knew I would have a to take a Vine of Harry in memory of Nick bringing our energies together (see the link below).
While it may be a small interaction to some, it proved a point of the powerful resonance that brings people together. He asked me to let Nick know he misses him, and that he would call him soon. It brightened my day to meet Harry and connect the dots. It brightened my day to connect with strangers hiking up Dørr Mountain in Maine. These interactions happen everyday to people everywhere. I believe the energy comes from a greater sphere, and not from us.
But in the end, I believe we provide a baseline of energy to allow a higher power to bring us together. As we face our daily routines, allow opportunity for spontaneous interaction. Whether that be with a beautiful piece of water in your city, with an old man you see playing chess in the park everyday, or with a beautiful flower you encounter on a bike ride. Sometimes you need to know people, but most of the time you just have to open your heart and listen to the beauty of crushing waves or the circus of 6th Ave New York City.
Sunrise at Cadillac Mountain
The day after visiting Otter Cliffs and Dørr Mountain, I met up with my cousin Andrea in Bar Harbor. We had just seen eachother in Destin, FL for our family reunion, and she was was on a road trip with friends through New England, so I took this as another good omen. We shared some delicious Lobster rolls and soaked up the evening breeze at waterfront restaurant. We planned our meetup at Cadillac Mountain for sunrise the next day. Atop Cadillac Mountain, Acadia’s tallest point, you can view the sunrise for miles as it is one of the first places to watch it in the U.S.
I woke up at 4:00 A.M. to reach and meet my cousin and her friends at the summit by 4:30. As we waited for the sun to rise, we looked out on the easterly view below. As you look out, you see much of the same view that Native Americans likely saw before European conquest. Several small islands populate the sea, lighthouses protrude from it, buoys sway and ring from the swells of the sea. The peaceful breeze blows down the mountain into the green and blue below.
For the next two days, I explored Acadia’s incredible sights with my cousin and my camera. What was one of my favorite experiences in Acadia? Swimming at Sand Beach. Sand Beach was a great spot to sunbathe and watch the tide go in and out throughout the day. It was uncomfortable at first since the water was 55°F! But as the day heated up, I just dove right in!
Rock Climbing in Acadia
On one of my final days in Acadia, I had the pleasant opportunity to scale it’s beautiful pink granite with a guide from Atlantic Rock Climbing Co. While the lesson was thorough, the time seemed to be nonexistent as Christian, my guide, detailed the climbing process. He reviewed the knots, cams, and those responsible for creating the quality equipment I would use to make small ascents of slabs of granite along the Precipice trail. It was refreshing being outdoors for my first true rock climbing lesson rather than being in an indoor gym. The fog surprised us as it came in and afforded us a cooler session to climb. Having an opportunity to interact with someone brought up with such an appreciation of the outdoors and climbing despite growing up in New Jersey was humbling.
Christian’s passion for climbing, teaching, and craft inspired me deeply. But more than that was the uncanny connection and interests we shared despite our different upbringings. After listening to Radiohead (a mutual music interest) on the way back to Bar Harbor, he told me about his upcoming trip to Yosemite this fall. I suggested we exchange info and keep in contact in case he would need accommodation during his time in California. It is these connections that I continually embrace as we travel through foreign terrain.
I leave for Europe in two weeks exactly, and will be posting about my plans there within the next week.