I like to remind myself of this often. Each time I crest a mountain summit, each time I look out at an open road. Each time I think deeply about my amazing life. I am small.
‘I am as a speck of dust in the sun, and not even so much, in this solemn, mysterious, unknowable universe.” –Andrew Carnegie
What is humility? These days, I don’t think anyone knows. I like to tell myself I am small before I share things on social media. Of all the places in the world, I want to be smallest there. I like my Instagram as a journal. As a photographer, I like the photos and the quick way of keeping order of my many memories to look back on, for myself. But somehow our account has attracted almost 3k followers, which recently made me change the account to private. Then sometimes I find myself sharing stories and I’m all like “hey you guys”…like I’m talking to someone. Ick.
This trip was nothing short of insta-worthy but can I just say how much I hate that phrase…hate that concept altogether. That mentality suggests that our experiences are nothing but for a square and some hashtags. Sorry, but my experiences are worth more. They’re more important than that and they mean more to me than a few likes and comments ever could.
Nature sustains my spirit, my soul. A long hike, a climb, a vista…it puts me in my place. Small. Categorized by shape and form, by nature. There’s no one out there who cares what I’ve accomplished, what I haven’t, what I wore or what I didn’t. We have a letter board in the camper that for a month read “The desert doesn’t care who you are. And neither does anyone or anything living in it.” A quote I found online that I rather liked for our time in the Arizona desert because of how true it is.
The desert doesn’t care how many Instagram followers I have or how many likes I get. And neither do the people who call the desert their home. It’s a different kind of being that far outside of suburbia. It’s like the confines of the modern world are almost foreign if you’ll let them be.
We trail along this fine line; as photographers, as instagrammers, as travelers. It’s the trend but that’s not why we’re doing it. We want to revolt but we also want to participate to a degree that’s comfortable for us.
This trip wasn’t for Instagram.
The photos I made aren’t for Instagram.
The places we’ve visited aren’t just beautiful landscapes out there for us to tread on. They were once a homeland. Where people, actual people once lived, gathered food, grew crops and loved the land we now “explore” as “adventurers”. We should honor that history by preserving it. By taking nothing but memories and leaving nothing behind. By leaving it better than we found it in doing so.
The more we share about the history of our insta-worthy adventures, the better we are for it. Keep the wild wild. Keep preserves preserved and refuges a refuge. To do that, we need to filter how we share things on Instagram, sadly.
All that to say, in order to respect the earth the way we should, we need to be smaller. If we think less of ourselves and care less about what others think of us and our experiences…then we can have authentic, respectful interactions with nature.
What I mean is, don’t just hit up a place to ‘gram it. And don’t just share squares for the way it makes you seem. Be smaller. By smaller I mean simpler. Be more simple. Instead of sharing an epic vista and hash tagging all the trendy tags, share an inspirational and beautiful experience, share some history, share some backstory, educate. And keep some things wild by keeping somethings altogether to yourself. Just my two-cents.