If you’re really lucky, you find a place where you feel complete, whole and inspired. It could be a beach, a ski slope, or maybe even a baseball field. It doesn’t really matter what that place is, so long as you find it.
For me that place is Yosemite. I’ve been lucky enough to visit this majestic national park eight times in the past 12 years. I’ve been there every season, in every climate, and was even married there in a small field almost ten years ago.
It is not an exaggeration to say that Yosemite is a natural masterpiece. Granite peaks that rise 4800 feet from the ground, hillsides of emerald green pine trees as far as the eye can see, magical groves of live oaks, two-thousand-year-old giant sequoias, waterfalls, meadows, lakes, streams and wildlife that is beyond description. You can also feel the strong presence of the Native American tribes who lived in the valley for thousands of years, before being pushed out as recently as the late 1800s.
It feels like nothing short of a miracle to experience a natural environment that has been (relatively) unchanged for millenniums. What I’ve learned is that while Yosemite stays the same, each visit there offers a chance to see the ways I’ve personally changed and grown. In that way, Yosemite not only offers the gift of unending beauty, but also the chance for inner reflection as well.
I suppose what I’m learning, more than anything else, is that while it’s always a blessing to travel to a place of beauty, the most important thing is to find that same beauty inside of yourself. In that way, Yosemite offers the most gentle and generous mirror: a gift that reminds me that it’s less about planning the next trip to find peace and beauty in a far-away place, and more about cultivating those qualities within, while enjoying (and sharing) them right here at home.