Nature is humbling.
Last Sunday, I was sitting in a pool of water with a close friend and a couple of new ones. Under gray clouds, and as a brisk wind swept through, rain began to pour down mercilessly.
The still water began to dance, and the trees along the shoreline soon followed suit.
It was a transformative moment to be softly tapped by the rain with a million droplets shattering the once-glassy surface surrounding me.
Then, all at once, the rain ceased, as if an imaginary maestro had lifted their baton to a halt. Silence followed with a dramatic change of scene, signaling the next show.
A blinding yellow sun broke through crowded clouds, streaming a golden spotlight onto the bright blue sea. The roaring wind calmed to a gentle breeze. Then, a gift: two faint rainbows stretching across the hazy horizon.
Laughing through the random whirlwind of weather, my friends appeared indifferent to what I had experienced.
To me, it was an ephemeral moment of bliss, a taste of the gold that might have been hidden at the end of those rainbows.
In less than a minute, natural elements had engulfed a typical day at the beach, transforming it into an amphitheater of awe and wonder. As an audience member, I was grateful for a good seat.
Truly, it was a grand show that impressed on me the importance of simply being entertained by the natural world we live in, especially since these dramatic acts come daily.
In an increasingly digital and technological society, we should revisit our human roots more often. There's a certain growth that is gained only outside.
A humbling experience
However, it's not always an inspirational experience when you hit the beach or jungle trails. Sometimes nature has a way of bringing you to your knees, sometimes literally.
Over the course of hundreds of hikes in the past few years, I've probably fallen only a handful of times, and nearly fell more times than I can count.
Every time it happens, it's an unforgettable reminder that I'm human. I'm capable of making mistakes and, yes, sometimes it takes a good fall to be grounded again.
A few weeks ago, this sentiment was no different. It was a good old-fashioned fall and a lesson learned.
Hiking through the Geus River in Merizo for my second time, I was showing the place to some friends, who might've enjoyed a little more silence than I cared to realize.
Over the years, I've developed a sort of cheesy, tacky hike-guide persona. It's a terrible act that now comes naturally, but I enjoy it!
I'll be hopping from boulder to boulder, wading into the deep-end all nonchalant, and jumping up and down ledges – talking nonsense all the while. I'm sure my friends tire more from me than the actual hike.
I don't really know why I've become such a character, but I do know that I feel at home outdoors. To me, climbing mountains is as relaxing as climbing into bed. You could say I enjoy showing off my home whenever visitors pass through.
Except, sometimes I get carried away and forget my manners.
Splashing and sloshing our way through the murky river water, I continued with my loud mouth and carefree skipping and sliding over slick surfaces as though I were invincible.
Of course, it didn't take long for me to be put in my place.
Trying to use a shortcut over some slippery rocks to get ahead of my friends, while haphazardly running my mouth faster than the river was flowing, all of a sudden my feet go flying and the next thing I hear is, "Plop!"
In slow motion, as if Mother Nature wanted to make an example out of me, I lost my balance and wobbled to my left and right, before ultimately falling flat on my back into the shallow river – DSLR camera in hand, cellphone and battery-powered car keys in a nonwaterproof bag tied behind my back.
The miracle of rice
Worse yet, I flailed like a turtle on its back trying to get out for a few seconds, as I attempted to keep my camera from being dipped into the water again. It was truly tragic and embarrassing for me to fail so hard in front of fellow hikers, two of whom I had just met.
Once I finally got ahold of myself and made it onto dry land, I did everything everyone does when you get electronics wet, but there was seemingly no use. Everything was soaked, along with the rest of my day.
My phone and keys worked fine, thankfully, but my camera, which I had bought maybe two months before, was erratically malfunctioning.
Putting the despair in my pocket, we carried on. I wasn't going to let a little water woe ruin what started as a good day.
Long story short, and without the dark cloud of a destroyed camera hovering overhead, we enjoyed the rest of the day. It was still one of the best adventures I had all summer.
After intense research, and despite my reluctance to even try reviving my camera when I would've bet it was beyond repair, I left it in a container of rice for the next seven days. Fingers were crossed, but I wasn't about to rely on blind faith any longer.
Lo and behold, I learned you should never doubt the curative powers of rice! A miracle if there ever was one.
Everything worked just fine, beyond my wildest hopes.
Friendly reminders from Mother Nature
A little more than two weeks after that unfortunate accident, I'm reminded that all of this is so fragile and precious.
I'm reminded that we shouldn't mistake long-term safety and security for a lifetime of being cushioned and in the clear.
I'm reminded that we shouldn't take our days for granted, especially when everyone's are numbered.
I'm reminded that we should cherish and appreciate the ways mysterious forces work in our lives, and that we can learn from unique experiences.
I'm reminded that we should humble ourselves wherever we go, and especially outdoors, where anything is possible, and the worst can result from a bad attitude.
I'm reminded that, amid the beauty and chaos that unravels outside our homes every day, we alone control how we react to less-than-ideal circumstances.
Nature might write the narrative, but we decide our place and purpose.
Living in the moment
We choose to dance in the rain, laugh while falling into rivers and Electric Slide across red dirt trails.
We make these decisions, not because we choose to be delusional and see the glass half full, but because we choose to live.
We choose to cherish that which is a marvel in the modern world. We choose to savor that strikingly fresh burst of happiness that can only come from an authentic adventure.
Artist and entrepreneur Jellis Vaes said, "For me, adventures aren't just about doing something crazy, but rather about connecting with forgotten core elements of life.
"In effect, the single feeling that many people seek, but can't seem to find anywhere else, returns – and that is the feeling of being alive."
Be dazzled by the simplicity of being alive in every passing moment, and every day will be another humbling experience.