I recently returned from our family’s annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod.
Cape Cod is my favorite place on Earth.
I can learn more there, unwind more there, rest more there, restore more there, in just 24 hours than in 24 days back in my hometown of Houston, Texas (or anyplace else, for that matter).
This year – my fourth year of visiting the Cape – I have finally begun to detect the reason why.
Here at the Cape, and especially in the small town of Truro where we stay (Truro is the most remote town on the Cape itself), the ratio of nature to humanity is much more balanced.
In other words, here, human beings are in the distinct minority.
There are 100 trees to every one human, and nearly as many wild turkeys, dogs, and assorted wild birds in similar ratios.
Same holds true for sea life.
In fact, much of the Cape is made up of national parks and reserves – places where wildlife merit much stricter protections than man.
For this same reason, Park Rangers are a big fixture here – and yes, they do wear the traditional green and khaki outfits, complete with hats that would make Smoky the Bear proud.
During tourist season, the Park Rangers lead all kinds of nature walks and talks. During these events, they like to tell tourists, “when you enter the sea, you enter the food chain.”
The town of Chatham has become quite famous of late for its shark population (for obvious reasons, the sharks wish to be near Chatham’s plump seals, for which the township was previously famous.)
In other words, it is humbling as well as inspiring to spend time here.
Here at the Cape, there is no place nor use for that huge “people ego” that tells us we are above the reach of the natural way of things.
This type of false sense of security arises quite easily in over-populated, over-modernized places like Houston, where nature hides itself away in pure self-defense.
But here, nature is confident and bold. Nature shines and reminds me of my frailty as well as my strength.
I need to remember both to feel balanced, to feel a part of, to participate in fulfilling ways, to retain my sense of wonder, gratitude, inspiration, and hope.
At night, I can’t see my hand in front of my face without a flashlight, but I can make out nearly every star in the clear night sky.
During the day, nature goes on all around me, as daily dramas of “eat and be eaten” play out in plain sight (both in the surf and out) right in front of my eyes.
It can be difficult to obtain modern conveniences, such as corporate drive-through coffee bars and cell phone signals.
I find that these times can be especially challenging, when I am faced with the sudden choice of whether to panic or enjoy a sudden restful respite – one which I had not sought out but nevertheless truly need.
I feel more human and more connected here than at any other place or time in my life, and all year long some part of me waits to return, to rest, to recharge, to recommit to living my best life during the other months of the year when I am away.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you have any special places where you feel especially close to yourself, to what matters most to you, to what it means to be alive and a part of? If so, what lessons do your special places teach you? What can you learn there and no place else?