Live Well

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During Christmas break of 2011, I had a chance to visit the southwestern part of the United States, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. During my week long hegira, I found a place of no boundaries and a place of isolation. A place of where I had an emptiness of mind, a place where I was free from the pressures of our modern society.

My first stop was Las Vegas, Nevada, the entertainment capital of the world. A place built on consumerism; Las Vegas was the exact opposite of the place I sought. With $40 meals, superfluous energy consumption, and extravagant hotels with multiple shower heads and pools, everything was completely unnecessary. Driving away from the city, you could see a massive cloud of smog hovering over the city like a darkness covering all its unpleasant features.

After a long drive, contemplating what our human influences have down to the earth, I finally arrived at Zion National Park. Zion, located in southwestern Utah was completely contrary to Vegas, striped of all amenities and unplugged from our modern time. Once there I was left speechless with the rich and pure colors the rocks and canyons had to offer. It was better than the pictures. The cool deep blue skies, the warm yellow and orange cliffs were endless and expansive. I was able to experience nature the way it should be, the way Emerson and Thoreau described in their teachings, unobstructed in its beauty and grace.

While there, I found a real appreciation for nature in contrast to the consumerism and corruption of Vegas. The smooth sandstone epitomized purity and grace while the towering spires and bottomless canyons illustrated an aggression and strength incomparable to anything I’ve ever seen. Zion was the definition of nature, graceful, powerful and boundless.

At Zion, I found the place that many transcendentalists describe but it was the experience that was more meaningful. Learning about the transcendentalist beliefs in English class, I learned about traveling to places where you could find yourself. Places of freedom and purity. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

After Zion, I made my way north to Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce was just like Zion, a place with no boundaries. The freedom from the pressures of world and the beauty of the canyons and hoodoos were indescribable.
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. (Emerson)
Emerson spoke these words with passion and meaning, illustrating to the world, the purpose of life. Through my experiences at Zion and Bryce, to find a place “to be yourself,” and to find a place that speaks back to you, is the greatest accomplishment of all. Zion and Bryce spoke to me and they both encompassed the usefulness and honorability described by Emerson.

At the time, I was on top of the world, my eyes open to a new horizon with nothing standing in my way. However, we had one more stop to make, The Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and I was ready for it to be even better than Zion and Bryce. Every year nearly five million crowd in to see the wonder of the world. I was ready to see what all the hype was about.

When we got there, one word could describe the Grand Canyon, disappointing. Hundreds of people rushed in and out of cars, buses and trailers while and ever-growing number of tourists scuttled in and out of the lodges and hotels. There was a very crowded feeling to the point it was uncomfortable. The atmosphere was in great contrast to that of Zion and Bryce and the crowded vibe ultimately took away from the beauty of the canyon.

It was completely overrated and I realized the privacy that Thoreau and Emerson described from my English class. Without a sense of seclusion, all I thought about was what would happen if someone bumped me off the edge or I slipped on the ice and fell to my death. I valued my life more than seeing the canyon.

The Grand Canyon had a completely different atmosphere. All the people took away from the sense of not knowing because at every turn you saw packs of people standing around taking pictures of just about everything, a small bird, an icicle, or a sign like “give plants a chance.”

At Zion and Bryce it felt like you had all the power in the world, owning the whole park and its beauty to yourself. Zion and Bryce left you speechless. There were no boundaries and complete freedom. A sentimental feeling, an overwhelming feeling, a powerful feeling, one that every individual should be entitled to experience in their lifetime.

After visiting Zion and Bryce I realized that I haven’t “lived and lived well.” Through the week long vacation, I found more meaning and purpose to life than I have in my seventeen years. I saw a glimpse of what this world has to offer. During Christmas vacation of 2011, I was left speechless and mystified with what else the world has to offer. As Emerson said, “All life is an experiment, the more experiments you make the better.” This was my first of many to come. In the future I hope to find more places where I can live without bounds, to live free, and take the path less traveled. In merely a week I learned to live for the moments that take my breath taken away and the moments that leave me speechless. After this experience, I was left exhilarated and left knowing that I truly will live and live well.





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