Last week we walked the Mt. Galbraith trail out of Golden, one of my favorite local hikes. The trail ambles up the side of a small front range hill, allowing sweeping views of the Denver skyline and the plains. Early on during the hike, I was struck by the observation of how familiar I am with this little patch of earth. I certainly don’t know every nook and cranny, but I’ve walked the path enough times now to recognize certain elements of the flora and fauna.
We came around a bend and I realized I actually hadn’t hiked this trail in a long time. Sometime recently, a fire crept up Mt. Galbraith and wiped out portions of pines and grass and shrubs. Despite my earlier thoughts about the longevity and relative permanence of the natural world, the burn area reminded me of the cosmic understanding that even things we think won’t change, often do.
A couple days earlier in my course on Creative Leadership, I showed some TEDTalks and other video clips about the expansiveness of our Universe. One assignment in my class is for students to walk outside and look up, and to think about what this galactic glance inspires. The responses from the students who take the assignment seriously (and most everyone does), are tremendous and intriguing.
It turns out that most people share some pretty similar thoughts when looking up. Collectively, we often think about the massive expanse of space, and about what a miracle it is that earth and humans and life exist. Our next thoughts often then lead us to contemplate how insignificant we are, and how, despite these realizations, we are inspired to live our lives more completely.
Back on Mt. Galbraith, I come around another bend and spot this tree. Behold! I think quietly to my self. The Universe.