Celebrating Mother Earth: Visiting Parks, A Natural Way to Unplug

(Photos by Jeff Silva)

Have you hugged your mother lately? No, I’m not talking about the woman who gave birth to you; I’m referring to our shared mother -– Mother Earth. April 22 is Earth Day and we’re asking you to join us in celebrating this great big globe that we live on. We’re all just dots on this big green and blue sphere, so it’s easy to think, “How can little ol’ me make a difference?” YOU CAN make a difference –- a BIG one! Today we challenge you to do something, one thing, anything that will better our world. One of my friends, Sara Bayles, picks up trash for 20 minutes a day along the Santa Monica shoreline and blogs about it. Can you imagine if one billion people picked up one piece of trash today? What if we did this everyday? Also, check out this Earth Day site to find out how this day originated.

Go Inspire Go’s board member, Marcia Estarija Silva, is doing her part by sharing her experience of unplugging … naturally. If you enjoy the gifts of nature, think about how you can care for the environment and preserve its beauty so our future generations can share in the joy.

Being out in nature wasn’t a big part of my upbringing. My parents, who were born and raised in a rural town in the Philippines, probably didn’t think it was necessary and I never thought I was missing out.

Then I became an adult. My outdoor activities were still rather minimal. In fact, it seemed I had gone to the other side of the spectrum. I was merging with my computer and phone. Indeed, I started feeling (and continue to feel) too connected, checking email, status updates, and tweets multiple times in an hour. I didn’t have the willpower to turn the devices off and put them away.

So it was a huge shift when I started dating my now-husband who had a penchant for visiting national and state parks. Hiking and camping suddenly became normal activities in my life. And with those things came no cell phone reception and Internet access. I heard nothing now.

Initially, it was really hard to accept. I would check my phone throughout a park visit or camping trip and think that those bars would miraculously appear amongst the redwoods and sequoias, canyons and cliffs, rivers and lakes. Nope. Nothing. Nada.

I learned to leave the phone alone, buried away in the tent or in the car, and focus on the beauty around me. Out of sight; out of mind. It was peaceful, relaxing, even liberating.

I recently went with my husband and a couple of friends to Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, Calif. We all snow-shoed for the first time and we were probably the oldest group of people actually playing in the snowplay area.

There was free wi-fi access in the lodge and, yes, we all jumped at a chance to check the Internet. But when we realized the wi-fi was not so good, we didn’t fall apart. It wasn’t the end of the world. Those unread webpages and emails would still be there later.

I was somewhat amused by the first ever National Day of Unplugging this past March. Maybe five years ago, a call to turn off computers and phones for 24 hours would have seemed impossible. But, honestly, I shouldn’t have been so snooty about it. Sometimes a specific ask is all we need to finally do something to change our behavior.

Visiting parks is one way to disconnect from electronics and gadgets and reconnect with the simple things that we sometimes take for granted, like a 2,700 year-old Giant Sequoia or the relationships that keep us rooted in life.

If all you do is celebrate Earth Day by sharing the wondrous experience of nature with a friend who is perhaps not so use to the idea, like I was, you’ve already made a BIG difference. I hope you are inspired to visit and support your parks, whether it’s the first or umpteenth time. For more information, visit the National Parks Foundation or Google your state’s parks website.

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