Leaving things better than you found them: a way of life.August 13, 2020
At the end of July, I went to the Juan de Fuca trail with an old friend and eight teenagers. Some of them had never been camping or hiking long distance. We hiked 56kms along the trail over 5 days. If you haven’t hiked it, it’s mostly up and down over headlands along the coast and a few stretches of beach walk. It’s a good workout with one day in particular being strenuous, and with some typical west coast muddy patches.
The weather was great (thunder and lightning one night, but not much rain), with the full moon waxing. We saw grey whales, seals, and porpoises, looked in tide pools, and stood inside a big old growth tree. We talked around the campfire, sang along the trail, bathed in a stream, and dipped under a cold waterfall. It was a fantastic trip with some great lifelong memories.
I wanted to let you know that this group of teenagers was very grateful to you. They thought that it was amazing that so many British Columbians help create and enhance parks and make it possible for others to experience them. Almost every park in BC exists because of people like you, who see the value of nature and are willing to step up to make things happen in whatever way you can.
For me, that was the theme of this trip: ‘You leave things better than how you found them.’ That took many forms, some very small, some larger. Pulling some plastic out of a campsite and off the beach. Noticing plants, birds, and insects, and taking observations for our Nature Challenge. Helping out a hiker who had fallen and injured himself. Having the time to really listen to my travel companions and laugh together, help them out, inspire them or be inspired, and deepen friendships. Clearing my head and rejuvenating myself, gathering energy for the new great projects we are launching.
Leaving things better than how you found them is one of the greatest and most satisfying feelings in life. It’s not about improving nature, it’s about making our relationships to it, to ourselves, and to each other better. Even if things are good already, there is always great joy in exploring and deepening relationships further. It always feels good to lend a hand, to contribute in some way. Whatever you put in comes back to you.
Thank you, as always, for your inspiration in leaving things better than how you find them. May the rest of your days be filled with time outside, and the joy of giving and receiving.
Blog and all photos supplied by Dr. Andrew Day.
I can't conceive of anything being more varied, rich and handsome than planet earth: its crowning beauty is the natural world. I want to soak it up, to understand it ... then put it together and express it in my painting. This is the way I want to dedicate my life.”