Have you ever walked up to something in nature and just felt insignificant? I think it might be my favorite feeling in the entire world.
If you ever get the opportunity to explore Utah, it’s a great chance to do some soul-searching. I went with a small group of friends last summer, and checked all of Utah’s Mighty 5 off of my bucket list.
Watching the sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park was one of the best moments of the trip.
Delicate Arch is probably the most popular arch in the park, and there were hundreds of people with us, also waiting for the sun to dip below the horizon.
As we all sat around the arch, looking upon the alien structure, I couldn’t help but think how interesting it was that all of these strangers from around the world would travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles to view the same thing. There we all were; united by a national landmark carved by time.
We weren’t the first to make this trek, and we certainly weren’t the last.
Back in 2006, I was driving up to Seattle for spring break my junior year of high school. My dad, best friend, and I were headed up northbound I-5 past Redding en route to the Pacific Northwest.
We stopped at Shasta Lake and took a walk out on Shasta Dam.
We were peering out over the edge looking down 15-20 ft below us where the water was lazily slapping up against the dam and man-induced shoreline. There was a man fishing at the edge, with his black lab paddling around near the shore. It was a neat moment.
In front of us, the lake seemed to stretch out for infinity. At this point in my life, I had yet to see Lake Tahoe (I am aware that the Great Lakes are a thing, but I have yet to make it that far East!), and back in 2006 Shasta Lake was full and made an impression on teenage-me.
But that was nothing compared to what I felt when I walked across the street and looked across the other way.
The 602-ft. view down from the top of the dam is impressive, sure, but what got to me was the outstretched valley that lay beyond. It was in that moment I realized how deep the valley actually ran.
Suddenly, I felt very small.
There I was, a tiny man on a giant dam.
The dam was tiny compared to the lake, which paled in comparison to the valley.
And all of that is a joke, if you think about the scale of the earth.
Not to mention the solar system, or the Milky Way.
The universe is a pretty big place.
I think that insignificance is a powerful thing. For some, that might sound scary. After all, who wants to be “insignificant?” (I have value, I swear!)
I take comfort in it. When you realize how tiny you are compared to the world at large (forgive the pun), your problems become small with you. All of your work stress, your personal woes, and even your unrequited love will cease to be huge, looming issues.
It really is one of the best feelings in the world– and that world is a hell of a place to get lost in.