As we approach our destination of Lake Tahoe, California, a drastic shift from our home town gradually emerges. The tall buildings which ruled the city are replaced with densely packed fir trees, stretched endlessly towards the sky and decorated with bright white snow. Above, I see soft white clouds, much like the powdery white snow beneath me. I take a breath and the refreshingly cold air surrounds my face and runs through my body.
In the evening, I walk around the sandy shore of the vast South Lake which is surrounded by a wall of snow covered mountains. The lake and sky above it are filled with wonderfully vibrant blues, grays, and pinks. As the sun sets behind the mountains, it casts a pallet of fiery colors in the sky: first soft yellows and oranges, then dark blues and hints of purple, and finally a bold pink before the sun vanishes.
Although it was relatively empty, a few individuals sat or walked the shore around me. To my shock, these individuals were completely dismissive of the beautiful scenery surrounding them. The majority of them were so invested in their cell phones or cameras, they failed to appreciate the wondrous beauty right in front of them. One young man, about my age, sat on his phone the entire time, looking up only two or three times when his family called for him. He missed out on the beautiful ripples in the lake, the color changing sky, the white tipped mountains, and most of all the quality time with his family. Another woman was so preoccupied with taking the most perfect pictures of the lake, she seemed to be missing the true beauty which came only from living and absorbing that very moment. She would not be able to appreciate the cool breeze hugging her face or the soothing sounds of the small waves in the lake with those photos. Both the young man and woman were too engrossed in their gadgets to see the flock of fifty or more wild Mallard ducks which flew in and out of the lake with such synchronization as if it were a dance. It was truly amazing to witness the beauty and activity of the natural lake and I felt pity for those who were there but did not get the opportunity to properly experience it.
It seemed clearly apparent the extent to which these gadgets have distanced us from reality and life in general. Social media and other developments, despite their claims, have done little to bring us closer to each other or the core principles of our world. We have lost the idea of pure appreciation of nature and feel the need for superficial or materialistic gains to enjoy it. Even if all this means is a picture, we tend to focus too much on the perfect picture, failing to take in the beauty of the moment, the moment we will never again get to live. Rather than wasting any more precious moments trying to fill these materialistic ideals, we should learn to take in and appreciate each moment as there will never be another exactly like it.
As the darkness of the night emerges, absolute silence pervades the area around our cabin. Sitting under the sheet of stars draped over the dark sky and recounting the evening, I realize the beauty and value apparent in each present moment. There, I decide to never let another moment slip by in which I fail to appreciate the greatest present that can be given to me, the present moment.
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