Travel quote: “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle
Right now, this quote resonates with me more than any other. On my recent trip to the Smoky Mountains National Park, I spent the entire time in awe and amazement at the beauty of the natural world around me. Bright red, orange, and yellow leaves displayed the changing season. Water rushed over rocks in the river that hugged the side of the road. A bird flew overhead for miles, leading the way as I drove down the mountain road. Deer grazed in the grassy fields beside the woods. I’d found paradise in those mountains.
Always anxious to see and enjoy historical places, I was excited to visit all of the old cabins and schoolhouses from early settlers. I was excited, then saddened. I couldn’t believe the amount of vandalism that some people could do to these historical buildings. Why? To make your name go down in history? I would think you’d rather your name be remembered for something other than destruction. The bad part is, some of them are carved into the wood, not just written in ink.
Although I still enjoyed my time there and could feel the history of the places, I left with more than joy in my heart. I left with disappointment in humankind. I wanted to cry. Maybe I don’t understand because it means more to me than just an old building. To me, it’s a connection to the past. A time long gone that I will never fully understand.
I’m not trying to turn back time or take us back into the dark ages, but I do want to feel the connection. To be able to stand there and think, who walked in this exact spot before me? What did they do? What were they like? Even if I’m only making up stories in my head, I still feel something. I can try to imagine what it was like to live in those times. How much harder their life was, and how grateful I am for what I have now. Those are the thoughts that run through my head.
The funny thing is, they didn’t discriminate on what they were willing to destroy. They even had to write their names on a simple wooden post holding a donation bin inside one of the old churches.
It’s not just the vandalism that has upset me, but the litter, as well. On nearly every path we hiked, we picked up multiple items of trash along the way. I don’t understand the lack of respect for the beauty of our world.
I love to travel and explore the world. To meet and learn about new people and cultures. For every new place I go, I take with me the memories of the people and places that I found there. It’s a gift that I receive that will last me a lifetime.
I hope that more people begin to understand the sentiment behind this quote and try to make changes for the better. Hopefully, these places will remain for my children and grandchildren to love and enjoy as much as I do.
What do you think? Have you experienced these same feelings of disappointment? Share your thoughts and let me know.