Saturday, July 23, 2011

Touching 天堂 (Paradise)

A few days ago, I went mountain biking with my son and nephew around Navajo Lake. It's a beautiful area high in the Dixie National Forest, around 9000' (2800 m). The sun hung low, casting long shadows and exaggerating the colors. The terrain constantly changed from alpine forest to red rock desert to groves of white-trunked aspens with their fluttering leaves. Having never rode there, we didn't know what to expect, but it turned out to be one of the funnest rides I've ever been on.

My son the track star rode in front and set the rigorous pace, soaring along a roller coaster single track. At one point, we blasted through the trees into a moonscape of black lava with the trail weaving through otherworldly rocks—it was totally unexpected and beautiful. Then at the end of our ride, we met up with others in my family who were fishing off the shores of the lake, just as my younger daughter caught a nice 10" (25 cm) rainbow trout—which she made me clean.

While riding, we had a conversation about how cool it is to do that kind of activity. We're surrounded by beauty in our world, and it's so easy to get out and enjoy it. Yet there are so many people that choose to spend their time in front of the TV.

柔柔 on Big Rock, also called Elephant Rock
I'm lucky to live near mountains that provide a wealth of outdoor recreation. From my house, I can drive ten minutes to mountains that rise nearly 5000' (1500 m) from the foothills—and those foothills are already at 5000'! I often spend time running, hiking, and biking in those hills, alone or with family or friends. On two recent evenings, I happened to go up at sunset as the orange sun dove through purple clouds into the Great Salt Lake. I watched a misty rain float between me and the sun, sending down silky wisps that brushed across pines, aspens, oak and maple. White-tailed deer foraged in the underbrush—deer that seem so graceful but scare the heck out you when they bolt unexpectedly! I saw tiny owls take flight with their prey from the trail—completely, totally silent.

Many people believe in some sort of paradise—天堂—we can attain after the travails of this life. I don't know what it will look like, but I imagine that we can briefly touch 天堂 by getting off our butts and looking around.

This posting wouldn't be fair, however, if we don't mention the many people who are unable to get outside due to physical or societal limitations. My friend lives in beautiful Kupang Indonesia. Despite the 天堂-like surroundings, the lives of many people there are very difficult.  When you're struggling just to get food to eat, it's hard to spend time hiking for pleasure.

But for those people who are perfectly able to get outside and enjoy what we have, but are just unwilling or lazy, think for a minute about what you're missing—you don't need to wait until the next life to touch a bit of 天堂 right here!

(Photos by my son Aarim, and my wife 潔明.)

1 comment:

  1. OK, so after I posted this, I went out to mow the lawn and wash the car and wondered why I was doing all the work—how come my kids weren't helping? Well, because two of them were out enjoying mother nature water skiing instead of staying home to do some work!