What is Progress

  • September 29, 2011
  • Posted by Bobby Barjta

As I sit here in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park, gazing upon the night sky full of millions of stars shinning brighter than I’ve ever seen them shine before; I’m reminded of a conversation I had this past break.  My friend was updating me on all that was going on in the world, current events, politics and sports for the most part, and because I live in the backcountry more often than not, it was primarily a one sided conversation.  I’m miles away from civilization, no phone, no internet, no newspaper, so everything he mentioned was news to me.  At one point, he asked me “just how disconnected from the world are you?”  As he asked that question I was left not really knowing how to respond, I laughed but never really answered the question.  I changed the subject but never stopped thinking about those words.  As I sit here though, in awe of the night sky and natural architecture that surrounds me in these canyon walls I have a revelation: as I’ve grown further disconnected from the world, I’ve at the same time, grown more in tune with the world.

I think to myself, what is progress?  The route my friend is taking, being part of a world that continues to take leaps forward in the wrong direction, or the path I have taken, learning from Mother Nature herself?  I know we both love this planet very much, but there is just something special about being out here in the great wide open that brings everything to reality.  I’m reminded of a quote I’ve heard recently, “to love something you must first know and understand it.”  The Montana Conservation Corps has given me the opportunity to live among the wildflowers, allowing me to establish this deep connection and understanding with the world around me.  The mountains are no longer just mountains, but a canvas for our maker’s hands.  The trees are no longer just trees, but a blueprint of perfect design.  The vast array of vibrant colored wildflowers is no longer just pleasurable to the eye, for they all serve a purpose and have a unique niche to their natural environment.  The water that carves these canyon walls are no longer just the source I drink when I’m thirsty, it’s the sweet sound that sings me to sleep each night.  By allowing free roam to become my home, I’ve allowed the natural order to begin to put life into perspective for me.  This planet is no longer just somewhere I live; I now have a sense of place, an understanding and true love for the world around me. 
-Bobby Bartja GY-Grand Teton Crew


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