pub note 6-21

There are those who wish to throw darts and complain about our government. Certainly, there are some valid criticisms.

But on the other hand, I’ve always said and never had anyone disagree, there are two things our government excels at without a doubt. The first is safety regulations. You never need to interview the pilot before getting on a plane, check an engineer’s credentials before crossing a bridge, or worry about your house collapsing due to shoddy design, or wonder if each bite of meat or dose of medicine has a high likelihood of harming or killing you. If all is done legally, your odds of safety are pretty darn good. The second thing is public lands and parks. If it wasn’t for the government, every inch of coastal beach would be only accessible for a fee. The Grand Canyon wouldn’t be visible except for the billionaires with Cliffside getaways. The redwood forests and sequoias? Well, they’d have long since been run through the local sawmill. New York wouldn’t have Central Park. The list is endless. The result is priceless. 

I like to focus on the second point. This summer, in August, marks the 105th anniversary of the National Park Service, one of the greatest decisions ever made by our government. Terry Tempest Williams, author of numerous books on nature and contemplative thoughts states “Our national parks are places of pilgrimage. Places where we return over and over again, to be still, to be contemplative. And not only do we save these lands or save these national parks, they save us. There’s something about this wild continuity that gives us courage and that allows us to be the best of who we are as human beings.” That’s a bold statement with many applications. State parks, and local parks, though often smaller in scale, add to our quality of life as well. Individually, many of us have our own little piece of land, perhaps with a garden or other enjoyable space for relaxation, peace and comfort. Nobody has anything near as awe-inspiring as the Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Canyonlands. Clearly, there isn’t enough for each of us to possess this so we must share it. Visit it. Treasure it. Protect it.

We spend enormous amounts of our lives working, much of it to provide the elements of survival, some of it to provide pleasures. But we are the gatekeepers of our time and resources. I hungrily savor my getaways. As time progresses, each of us is getting older, and hopefully wiser, and hopefully making more judicious decisions. Margaret and Edward Gehrke, a wealthy childless couple from Lincoln Nebraska famously stated, “Let those who will, buy lands and hoard money, we will have our memories, glad memories of golden experiences together.” My gut tells me few people sitting on their death bed are itemizing their assets. Most will be relishing memories of experiences and those they had experiences with. If you are reading this, then you are still alive and therefore still capable of deciding how your time will be spent. I hope you’ll create worthwhile memories. We are here to help!

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