On Waterfalls

Not sure if you’ve noticed by the rotating headers or the video section on this website, but I like waterfalls. I don’t even know when it started – maybe I was just tired of seeing flat farmland every day and wanted to see some mountains. But what was I going to see in the mountains? Waterfalls are in the mountains, why not go see some of those? I planned out a road trip with my mom and brother and we were on our way.

The first waterfall I ever saw in person was Looking Glass Falls just east of Brevard. From that point on I was hooked. I wanted to see more. The problem was that I never really understood why. Over the next 8 years or so I made trips back out to the mountains to see waterfalls both old and new. And each time I stood at the observation deck or sat on a rock in front of the falls, I was always mesmerized. The entire scene grabbed my full attention.

Looking Glass Falls

Looking Glass Falls

But after driving home from a day full of hiking, aching and sweaty and more gross than I normally am, I couldn’t figure out why I did it. I didn’t know why I hiked for miles just for a few minutes in front of something as beautiful but relatively common as a waterfall. It’s not like I was scaling a mountain to get sage advice from a reclusive old monk or see pygmy giraffes do somersaults through fire rings. It was water falling over a cliff because it had no other choice.

Maybe it was the fact that because I’ve always been bigger and taller than most everyone around, it was a nice sensation to feel small for once – to be around something so much bigger than I was. For those few moments in front of the falls, I was just like everyone else – tiny by comparison.

But really, I think it was simply a good ego-check. Waterfalls are great reminders that you’re not special. That no matter how much good or bad you’re putting into the world, life is still going to go on. The planet doesn’t need you to exist. It’s going to continue doing what it does. Earth is still going to keep spinning, wind is going to keep blowing, and water is going to fall from the sky or seep out of the ground and flow downhill until it reaches the ocean. And maybe along the way it drops over cliffs or cascades down ledges. But either way, it doesn’t need anyone’s help to get where it needs to go.

At that point, all you have is yourself and those around you that you choose to care about. Everything you do will eventually be forgotten (unless you turn out to be Hitler or someone like that). If you’re truly pessimistic and cynical, you might be tempted to give up completely. After all, what’s the point? Or you can take the high road. See what you can do with the time you’ve got. Will anyone care? Not likely. But it’s still worth it to see what you can accomplish, even if it’s just for your own enjoyment.

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