Steeds meer mensen (ook de al dan niet zelfbenoemde “Influencers”) delen hun gehele dag op Instagram en Facebook Stories. Velen laten graag zien dat ze het druk hebben en werkelijk élke afspraak op een dag wordt vergezeld met hashtags als #workworkwork #meeting of #busy. Daarbij worden vaak snelle filmpjes gemaakt van de klant aan de overkant van de tafel, van de eigen gespreksnotities, van de eigen Inbox of zelfs van de notities en/of Inbox van de klant. Als kijker van zo’n filmpje kun je dat vaak heen en weer gaande beeld stilzetten en heb je een haarscherpe weergave van al het besprokene inclusief mailadressen, telefoonnummers en overige privacygevoelige informatie. Voordat je je succes deelt met anderen, sta er dan even bij stil of je gesprekspartner wel in beeld wíl en vraag hem of haar eerst om toestemming. En als je een foto van je notitieboekje maakt: dan maar van het belangrijkste punt op je to do lijst: “Tijd voor mijzelf”. Aan dat punt gaan we allemaal nogal eens voorbij.
Until now I never told anybody what I did last summer. There was this one person who said they knew what I did, but they were way off base. It all started with the Land Rover I borrowed from a friend. I had no plan. No plan at all. I just started driving and eventually found myself in the desert. There I met this gnarled old medicine man who told me I was destined for great things. He smelled funny. And then he disappeared.
Let me first explain myself. I am not a brave person by nature. I once spent three hours in my little sister's playhouse hiding from a bee. Turns out it was just a small speck of ash on the wind from a neighbor's charcoal grill. Keep this in mind.
It was a day much like any other. The sun shown brightly, bathing the forest in a warm glow. It broke through the canopy's small gaps like a cascading river of light, pooling in the mossy forest floor. As it happens, a careless but presumably well meaning individual left their campfire to relieve themselves, and the flames went walkabout. If this happened near a campground, the fire would have been addressed quickly.
I discovered it on my morning hike to check the back trails. Smoke on the horizon. I was several miles from the nearest ranger, and I flat out ran the other way in terror. My voice was hoarse from screaming. It was only when I remembered my wand on my back pocket that I summoned the courage to summon some courage.
What did I do then? I beat that fire out with my pants.
I've been on the job for almost two months now. I made it through winter without frostbite, made a few friends, am pretty sure I saw a pack of Knarls, and even had a close encounter with two black bear cubs. And by close I mean at a distance and by encounter I mean snapped a photo with a telephoto lens. It was super adorable.
Now about these tourists. Give me bears any day of the week. Most of them come marching and cruising right through the park, iPads and iPhones thrust into the air, in front of their face, and dangling on selfie sticks. A quick shot and a panoramic and they're on to the next landmark.
They don't stop and listen to the sound of the forest. They don't notice the animals in the trees. They don't gasp at the size the trunks, the height of the towering Redwoods, or the stop to smell the moss. They trample the delecate and rare plant life beside large signs stating "Please don't trample the delecate and rare plant life." They're just capturing highlights to be "enjoyed" later on small screens and square aspect ratios.
It's depressing. It's as if they're all bewitched by an Obscuro charm.
I've begun to live for the days where I'm out on the back trails, the farside of the North Ridge, the hard to reach areas where the adventurers travel. I met a man yesterday who had never heard of Facebook. Can you imagine?
My New Goals
1. Teach Appreciation
I'm taking it as my mission in this job to teach these people to appreciate what they have out here. The next time someone hands me their oversized smart phone, I'm going to have them turn around and actually look at the thing they're posing in front of. My captain doesn't think it's a good idea, he's just happy there are people entering the park. But that's not enough for me.
2. Ride an Elk
Vargatesh told me the ultimate challange and test of will for a Park Ranger is to ride a wild Roosevelt Elk.
I know he was messing with me (as any former Indian pop star would) but I'm going to show him. If a Cicuro charm could tame the Loch Ness Monster, I'm sure it could work on simple beast. I came pretty close to one, even managed to feed it some sugar cubes, but he wouldn't let me approach his hindquarters. I'm going to bring my wand every day from now on.
3. Blog More
I started out so ambitious with this blog, but just two days in I fell into the "I'll write tomorrow" pattern and almost 2 months have gone by. Unacceptable. So I promise I will write more from here on out. I should probably also get one of those hit counters, don't you think?