In Awe of the Wilderness: Acadia National Park

"More and more, in a place like this, we feel ourselves part of wild Nature, kin to everything."

— John Muir

When my UP law friends from New York and DC asked me to come with them to Acadia National Park last week, I could not say no. I said yes willingly and excitedly although their spring break didn't quite coincide with my winter break. (Winter never ends in New Hampshire, it seems.) I really wanted to go. I figured an extended weekend trip for this would be worth it because not only do I get to meet up with friends from back home, but I'd also have a reason to see a new place that I otherwise would not have been able to visit by myself. 

I am so glad that I did. 

It was still snowing when they picked me up. I was pumped up and raring to go, not only because I was excited to be somewhere a little warmer, but also because it just meant I could put my guard down and finally just be. An often unacknowledged difficulty in studying abroad is the need to always filter your thoughts - not only because you have to speak in your second language but also because you have to contextualize your stories. Backstories to be explained, gaps to be filled, all these minor details that need to be parsed to make the story. It can be refreshing to start with a blank slate but it can be a little draining if you have to do it every single time. For that weekend, we were just happily ranting, sounding off on every frustration, every personal win, every newsworthy issue, big or small. It felt great.

Bar Harbor is a very small, quiet, and quaint little town at the tip of Maine. The last leg of our drive began feeling a little eerie, partly because we kept referencing Stephen King (he is from Maine after all!) but mostly because everything was closed. Turns out, the place is a summer destination. And since we are just at the tail end of winter, there is not much to see yet. Basically just Acadia. Which did not end up being a bad thing at all. 

Awe would be an understatement for my feelings when I stood before this view. I very rarely feel stunned into silence, but apparently, nature is one of the very few things that can do that. There we were, each a portable composition of atoms, standing on those rocks, overlooking the vast blue sea, all formed by millions of years of rain and sun, fire and ice. It was so, so beautiful. 

Panoramic view of Sand Beach

Canada's right behind us!

A view of the Bar Harbor ocean front, which was just a ten-minute walk from our hotel

A Maine feast! Lia & I shared a lobster roll, and it was soo goood

JM's giant lobster

UP Law Block D represent! Karl, Lars, me, and Lia

The Batuhans: JM, Emma, Jechel, and Olivia

Lia, Jechel, Lars, and me, feat. Olivia and her cute outfit

Lia & I woke up early and left the hotel at 6:30 to catch the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain

Gumising ng maaga; hindi nagsuklay

Sunrise at Sand Beach. What a beaut! 

"Perhaps it is not so much what we learn that matters in these moments of awe and wonder, but what we feel in relationship to a world beyond ourselves, even beyond our own species." 

— Terry Tempest Williams

These days we have been having conversations about how anxious we've been feeling about our upcoming elections. It has been exhausting and crushing. There is no other way to explain that feeling of legitimate fear and worry that given how bad things already are, it can still become worse. It feels so easy these days to give in to hopelessness and despair. But as I stood before this astonishing view, I'm reminded of how important it is to keep paying attention. To keep finding beauty in the little things, to continue finding joy in small acts of kindness. To find balance in nature, in friendships, in the places and people who make us feel alive. Willa Cather said it best: This is happiness  ⁠— to be dissolved in something complete and great. 

This was the best kind of fuel we needed to keep fighting the good fight. Onwards and upwards. If winter is the season for tending to the inner garden of the soul, the only way out is to grow. To the promise of spring we go. 

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