For Labor Day weekend, I drove up into the Gallatin National Forest just northwest of Bozeman, MT, and camped at an area called Fairy Lake. It was the only area that still had any campsites left for the holiday weekend, and I found out why. The road up to the campground was seven miles of heavy washboarding, potholes deep enough to hide tires in, and ruts as wide as the road. My nerves were completely frayed by the time I got up and it took me a full day to calm down. The campsite was lovely, though.
My iPhone battery won’t hold a charge anymore, which means it has to stay plugged in to turn on, so I only got a couple decent pictures, keeping it plugged in to the dashboard and aiming out the window.
This is what I expected Montana to look like, and so far haven’t seen much of. Big, green mountains, tall forests, a small stream running nearby. The clear, cool nights and high altitude made for incredible night sky viewing, and I spent hours gazing up at those lights twinkling so far away. For me, this has been a deeply relaxing place—apart from that terrible road.
At one point, I saw a cow at another campsite eating the ashes in the fire pit. Some local ranchers have permits to graze their cattle on the public land, and I passed several farther down the mountain, but this was a quite sight!
As I looked up into the stars, I felt I finally heard slash felt the message that I’ve been waiting for, that has been building up inside of me, since my visit to Devils Tower a few months ago. I’m not sure if it was a word from God or my subconscious finally assembling my many experiences into words, but I am willing to call it a revelation.
Which is this:
I have spent years happily whiling away my time in front of entertainment, things to do, and passing the time.
This is an incredible, fascinating, strange, and wondrous world and I am satisfied to be entertained?!
I don’t want to merely be entertained any more! This is my life we’re talking about.
I want genuine connection and boundless love and joy beyond measure. There isn’t a TV show, movie, novel, attraction, or game that has ever been produced that can hold a candle to that. Not even Star Trek.
As I looked up into the night sky, I was struck by the light of the stars. The photons hitting my retinas traveled millions of light-years before they got here, as did every atom in my body.
Every element that I am made of, every atom of the bed I am sitting on, of the plastic in this keyboard, and the gold in my parent’s wedding rings, were all formed in the infernos at the center of distant stars and hurled across space, coalescing in this swirling cloud of cosmic dust and gas that became this planet, the air I am breathing, and me.
Every breath I breathe and the breath you just inhaled contains a few thousand molecules of the very same air that Gandhi breathed.
And I breathe that life-sustaining air in front of a screen, watching a show at the end of the day when I don’t have the energy for anything else, or as a reward for finishing some task.
The water that trickles down my face in the shower contains thousands of molecules of the same water that carved the Grand Canyon out of mountains, and it can cut granite with the precision of a laser.
The same water that once fed the dinosaurs now makes up my skin and hair, is in my cells and the spaces between my cells.
And I have spent countless hours watching episodes of Star Trek again and again although I have them all practically memorized.
Billions of molecules from all over the Earth are in the eight ounce glass of water in front of me, including a couple of molecules that made up Mother Teresa’s tears as she attended lepers in Calcutta. Carried around the world by oceans and clouds and through the digestive tracts of many animals and people, through the municipal water system, out of a faucet and into my glass.
This world is more incredible than I can ever imagine, more awesome than I can fathom, and it would take me thousands of lifetimes to plumb the depths of its beauty, power, and strangeness.
And I am so bored that being entertained is something I look forward to.
But what if the very entertainment I love is actually holding me back from being able to be happy?
What if the problem with entertainment is not so much what it does, but what it prevents? What if it so occupies my mind and focuses my energy that I am not able to deeply and intimately experience the wonders and awesomeness of the universe that are right in front of me? Or to actualize the full potential of my beautiful life?
I don’t want to spend my marvelous, miraculous life being entertained yet bored by the astonishing, amazing world around me.
I want to fill my life with wonder and awe, to connect deeply with the beautiful people in my life and see them as the miracles that they truly are. That will be boundless love and joy beyond measure.