By Rami Abdel
Adventure & nature have been a big part of my life since childhood. It was an escape from city lights & the concrete jungle, which quite plainly never felt like home.
I assumed this was a temporary phase that I would eventually grow out of.
The years went on as I grew older in pursuit of a meaningful career & the subsequent conformist lifestyles of modern-suburbia.
A considerable measure of my own life was lamentably spent working with various multi-national enterprises, organizations & corporations both in the United States & abroad. And although I gained significant growth & experience professionally, I was becoming more & more disillusioned with the corporate realm in general.
The hierarchical & compartmentalized nature of the business environment seemed outdated to me. I could never understand the ideals & motives that perpetuated corporate culture.
My surroundings were quickly monopolized by spectator sport/pop culture, pub-crawling, & all other sorts of fruitless pastimes. Although I enjoy & empathize with the sporadic necessity of these pastimes, I most identify with the silence & solitude that I can only find in nature.
Camping became my outlet after a long workweek, although it was becoming more & more difficult to organize & make worthwhile. I was too exhausted most weekends to do anything other than sit home & unwind in front of the TV.
A successful camping trip does requires a lot of preparation. Packing, driving to your destination, & setting-up site will usually consume an afternoon - assuming that nothing goes wrong in the preparation & execution of your trip. A punctured air mattress or a forgotten piece of equipment could unravel a camping trip before it even starts.
Still, I wanted to get everyone I knew excited about nature & the outdoors. I wanted them to have the same appreciation I had for this environment & the need for conservation. I also found that these trips were an opportunity for me to raise awareness about issues that were important to me such environmental protection & conservation. I found that people always seemed more receptive to this message if they were experiencing the beauty of nature for themselves, without having to sacrifice too much luxury.
I eventually considered purchasing an RV. Still, the idea of investing in such a huge vehicle that would only be used recreationally on occasion didn’t seem practical or cost-effective. It also felt to me that it all altogether detracted from the idea of escaping into nature.
I quickly found that I wasn’t alone in my frustrations as I started to exchange these sentiments with fellow-campers. I started thinking about how we could resolve these experiences, which (along with the crowd of mysophobes and insectaphobes) seemed to be the primary reason people were reluctant to camp more often.
I could honestly never understand the extreme fear & paranoia over tiny insects & any other wild-life in general.
The more I thought about it, the more I wondered…how is it that an environment that’s so soothing & therapeutic to the soul, be so terrifying to an individual?
When was it that we become so afraid of nature & wildlife to this degree? When did we decide that the perfectly linear concrete jungles that constitute our cities could, in any way, surpass the quality of life delivered by a natural environment?
After spending many years living in the deserts of the Egyptian Red Sea & diving in some of the most exotic reefs on the planet, I can still remember how it felt to see my first Tiger Shark up close; a 10-foot behemoth, hauntingly & eerily beautiful. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. What appeared from the surface as a monster emerging from the dark, took on a whole new perspective when one is submerged, eye-to-eye in their natural habitat. An animal that I had feared my whole life, transformed from a monster into a living, breathing intellectual life-form deserving of admiration & respect. All the frivolous misconceptions & irrational fears I associated with these species were in an instant gone. He was just another life-form crossing my path & moving to the rhythm of the ocean.
These same misconceptions that are, in many cases, perpetuated by media, have taken such hold over our collective psyche that we’ve been led to extreme measures like the decimation of shark populations to the brink of extinction.
After all, this is what we must do to monsters.
Isn’t that what we’ve done time and time again throughout history - not only towards our own species, but to the planet earth at large? Isn’t this what always leads to genocide? Isn’t this what we’re doing to nature, the environment & wildlife right now?
This realization led me to the understanding that monsters were mere reflections of everything that terrified us – the things we simply don't/won’t understand.
The more research I did the more I realized that something is seriously flawed with the ideologies perceived by a large population of our world today. It’s a very tragic state of affairs for our species in a time when we’ve achieved the pinnacle of human evolution. The more I reflected on things, the more I came to the realization that this culture & suburban model was never going to be for me.
If there’s one thing you can internalize from all these words – let it be the comprehension that there is nothing to fear at all. Where monsters are said to be lurking, be among the fortunate who find therein, light.
To be continued...