Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
Haley Littleton | 02.06.2017


I look out over the plateau towards the display of the season’s change highlighted in deep greens, orange marmalade, and burnt red haze in the openness below. I feel the momentary onrush of affectation; it sits lodged in the back of my throat with the pulsation of emotion. I am inclined to use one word: love. 

We return, again and again, in the landscapes we exist in, to love.

Amo: Volo ut sis. Love as the affirmation of being, Augustine might be translated to say, or love that gives itself and the object shared existence. Love as the power of assertion, to look across a brazenly golden valley and declare: I love this, which says something about the speaker’s emotion and the object that it is placed upon. The greatest assertion: I love you and I want (desire) that you be. In other words: I wish for you to exist purely because of this felt emotion or connection.

This does not mean, “I want to have or own you” or “I want to rule you.” It is simply: I love you, and I am happy that you merely exist. Hannah Arendt wrote that this was the basis of incalculable, grace-driven love. When applied to people, it is the notion that one need not earn the love given to them. When applied to nature, it is the impetus to love solely because the sun shines on us, the ground offers up food, and the river gives us water without asking for anything in return, as if the mere beauty of it all were not enough. Nature opens up its spaces for us to play within, climb on, ski down, or dart along its waterways. In return, we look upon it with love, happy for its existence.

We may care for our environment in order to ensure our general existence, and environmentalists can sway us by the calculated data of our lessening chances of survival, but what about love, something deeper than solely utilitarian assurance? Isn’t this what we began with? How is love a framework for environmental involvement?



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