I recently returned from a fishing trip to Northern California. I head up there three or four times a year, like thousands of others, to put myself in that beautiful place where nature is mostly untroubled by human intervention.
I call it a fishing trip, and spend most days with a fly rod splashing through the streams and lakes, but my thrill with these trips isn't about fish. It's the way I feel when I'm away from the chaos of city life and closer to that place we all came from.
We are all products of the same raw materials as the trees and the mountains, the ospreys and the bears, and of course, the trout. Thanks to Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and others, we know that we all started as molecules and atoms that through time evolved into astonishingly complex organisms, some who fly, some who swim, and some who think in logical ways. Redwood trees or daffodils, people or bugs, we've all made the long journey together.
When we can manage to get away from the man-made things -- skyscrapers, bridges, smartphones -- and put ourselves among the creatures of nature our bodies and minds seem to remember those beginnings. We become possessed of the calmness of homecoming. I am grateful for stunning architecture, lifesaving medications, electronic marvels, but art and science inspire a different kind of wonder.
That's why so many of us take ourselves and our families camping or backpacking. We endure the discomfort of tossing around in a bedroll, drinking lousy coffee from a tin cup, shivering in the morning frost, because it's the only way our minds and our spirits return to that place where we all began.