Bugs, Dirt and Me This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     It was an ordinary Saturday. I didn't know what Iwas doing, where I was going, or why I was even awake. But who cares? Theimportant thing was it was Saturday. And as that thought passed through my head,a familiar tone rang in my ears. I groaned and answered the phone, only to hearmy friend's voice inviting me hiking. Can that even be considered a validquestion? Can you imagine me, the girl who spends her time burning holes inDaddy's wallet at the mall, or with her head stuck in a book, hiking? The bugs,the dirt, the sweat! Doesn't really fit my profile.

I firmly told her,"No way! Are you insane?"

She replied with a persuasive,"Come on, it'll be fun! Besides, what do you have to lose?" The girlwasn't backing down, and she did have a point - what did I have to lose?

Motivated to prove that I could endure the elements, I relented."Alright, I'm in! What time do you want to leave?" So, it was set. Iwas going hiking! On the way, all I could think about was my school work, thejewelry I wanted, the job I should quit, and the boy I should have. As thesethoughts consumed me, I found myself at the foot of the mountain. It stared at mein a slightly intimidating and yet slyly welcoming way, as if it held a secreteveryone knew - everyone except me.

I boldly walked to the trailhead, notonly motivated to complete the hike but determined to seek out the secret. Themost appealing thing about hiking is that it gives your mind time to rest, to getback to nature. The purity of the trees, the clarity of the bird's chirp, and thesky's breathtaking beauty took over and soon, I wasn't thinking about school,boys, materialism or meaningless things anymore.

The simple act of hikinggave me an opportunity to step back and look at my life from a differentperspective. I never realized just how little I was, or that the world wouldstill continue perfectly well without me. The beauty of nature would still existeven if I hadn't gone hiking that day, or even if I hadn't been born at all. Itmade me realize that my life is just one among billions of others.

Ilooked at my friend; she seemed to be enjoying it too. She didn't know what I wasthinking, and I wondered if she knew how insignificant she was. Did she know thather life, or mine, could be taken away in seconds? These thoughts may seemnegative, but truthfully, their presence was the best thing that's ever happenedto me.

As we neared the top, I wished the hike could last forever. Theclarity nature provides is priceless, and when I peered over the look-out, I hadthe strangest feeling of tranquility, a feeling of stability. I looked around,and all I could see was me. I had found myself in a place I never would havelooked. I was in the trees, the sky, the dirt, the rocks, everything. Iunderstood the magnitude of life. I began to be thankful for everything aroundme, and all that I had.

I changed that day. My life turned into somethingworth living, rather than something to worry about. I no longer wished for andobsessed over things. Instead, I feel content with longing for spiritual clarityand emotional strength. The nakedness of being stripped to the core of my beingis exactly what I needed to turn my life around. The experience of stepping outof myself, outside my circle of comfort, was the secret that the mountain held.That day I accepted my flaws along with my insecurities.

My friend and Istayed there for as long it took me to come back down. I never counted the hours;the world could wait. As the sun set, I headed down the mountain with a new stateof mind and a desire for something more than a credit card could ever buy. Ibegan to want life, not just the material aspects of it, but something deeper.Something that I earn, anything that truly counts.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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