As I sat on the side of a mountain overlooking Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, I couldn’t help but stop and think about how I think it is wrong to wait until retirement to travel. The time to take a month or two off to go out and see the world shouldn’t be when you are over 65. It should be NOW.
Travel enriches your life. Helps you to see the world from a WHOLE perspective. Not a new perspective, but a compete one. See how other people live. Understand their beliefs. How the geography and weather has shaped them. How the world impacts them – and to feel the impact yourself.
I believe it gives us a greater understanding and appreciation of our impact on the Earth. As beautiful as Going to the Sun road is throughout Glacier National Park, I understand why the tribes native to this region consider it a scar across the mountains. I’m glad the road is here, but I couldn’t help but think as I stood at the exhibit at the visitor’s center just how devastating it must have been to them to see their land changed as a road was created to transport thousands of visitors a year through the park. What changes that road has brought to the land. For example, I know that the invention of plastic has brought many advances and conveniences, but I also see the damage that it does. Litter on our highways, in our fields.
I believe travel, and especially camping and hiking, have sparked a passion in me to change. To respect the Earth more. Being among the mountains gives me a sense of strength and peace. In return, I want to take care of nature. Recycle. Reuse things. Be mindful of my impact on the world.
There are no guarantees that we will live to see retirement age. There are no guarantees that once you hit 65, you can stop working. I expect that by the time I reach 65, people will have to work well past that age. I would much rather structure my life so I can enjoy the good things throughout the years, savoring them now instead of waiting for a day that might not come. I think that facing your mortality can bring about the most beautiful things in life because it creates gratitude for the present moment. A mindful presence in this world. (My friend Tracy wrote an amazing post recently on Magnificent Mortality, and if you haven’t read it – you should. She sums up everything I have been thinking so well!)
Life is SHORT. Leave an impact on the world. Get out there. Enjoy your parks, your scenic drives. Don’t wait for the future. Do it NOW. Go!!!