This I Believe

Benjamin - Goshen, Indiana
Entered on November 3, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe I am deeply connected to land.

I embrace a sense of spatiality; places become sacred.

I was brought up as a young child exploring the snowcapped Andes Mountains in their imposing presence. I recall swimming in majestic tropical rivers and fishing beside streams that flowed crystal clear over smooth stones. Running through misty cloud forests, then hiking up from endless valley floors to heights unimagined. I remember vividly chasing dreams in the jungle canopy.

I am connected to places that nearly claimed my life, like the vicious Yuba River in California that wanted to swallow me whole, sucking me into its furious current. Linked to the high altitude, storm-prone hell, where four of us “free spirits” nearly died of exposure after losing the trail. Intertwined to the ground that quaked under my family’s feet as we slept, cracking the earth in its rage.

I am bound to places where a young boy’s adventurous spirit ran free. Once I took a wrong turn on a hike and realized moments later I was lost, surviving with only instinct as my guide. Linked to the tree houses and forts I built in the wilderness where my inventive side was celebrated.

I am meshed with places I have traveled. Be it the red, burning center of Australia or the endless sand of Chile’s Atacama Desert. Braided into the stony, cold beaches of Brighton, England, or flower fields in the Netherlands, in their glorious collection of hues. I am locked to the glass-like lakes of the Southern Cone and the explosive volcanoes of Ecuador. The pampas of Argentina call my name, while I remember the Brazilian Pantanal, teeming with life.

I am woven into spaces where Nature’s beauty commands respect and radiates spirit. The ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian highlands speak of a lost civilization that demands respect. I am glued to a series of mammoth waterfalls that spews water over rock faces at Iguaçu. My person is bound to sunrise over the temperate Atlantic in Miami and linked to sunset over the frigid Pacific near San Diego. The impeccably pure, white salt flats at Uyuni that contrast to turquoise and pink bodies of water leave me breathless. From the swamps of the Everglades, to the large glacier scar that is the Grand Canyon. I am in love affair with the Canadian wilderness and the rural treasures in central Mexico.

These are mental images that conjure up memories. Images that that illicit tears and bring forth a longing to return, to live again. However these thoughts also remind me of many places yet to be uncovered, of playgrounds for this vivid imagination of mine. I am blessed to have partaken in these fragments of the planet, but anxious to pull the compass out again and press on.

Twenty-one years of globe trotting and no end in sight.

My roots, my being, my existence and my dreams are interwoven into the land.