by Dr. Denise R. Ames
The act of traveling has changed. COVID-19 has stretched its deadly tentacles into traveling as well as into other areas of our lives. Exotic vacations in foreign lands are on hold for now and cross-country flights to visit loved ones are deemed too dangerous at this time. Americans don’t like to have limits imposed upon them, I am one of them. But instead of chafing under restrictions, someone who enjoys seeing different landscapes and living different experiences has to be creative.
There is a world of wonder out there to be discovered and reflected upon, we just need to shift our mindset. We have been conditioned to want to behold breath-taking scenery, visit “exotic” people, or see monumental architecture. I love all that, but it is not what we can have right now. It is time to turn to the local, to explore what is just down the road a spell.
I took my own advice a few days ago and ventured out to hike along a string of trails that I had not hiked before. Bordering the banks of the Rio Grande River in the heart of Albuquerque, New Mexico, my home town, the trails were new and fresh to me. In Spanish this area is called the Bosque or woods in English, a tangled mish-mash of intersecting and dead-end trails meandering through a tree-shaded stretch of protected lands.
Giant cottonwood trees shade this swath of green ribbon nestled between a dry, expanse of brown plateau, technically called a semiarid high desert. The Rio Grande, a river of legion in the old West, cuts through this green paradise as it ambles along in search for the Gulf of Mexico.
I felt like I was entering a wild land of thick underbrush, thorny branches, and sunlight flickering through the treetops. Although I was surrounded by the city just a mile or so away, I pushed away the city sounds and surrendered to birds chirping from above and the rustle of lizards scampering through the groundcover. This was a more remote section of trails than other areas along the river, so I encountered few fellow hikers, lending to the isolated feeling I craved.
It was an early morning hike in early September, just as the hint of fall has crept into our lives. Fall is magically in New Mexico, the sun is crisp, the air is light, and colors of nature are at their most intense. Artists flock to New Mexico because they love to paint the “light.” Here I was, just me and nature, enjoying the early morning light filtering through the leaves and catching a glimpse of that emerging, indescribable fall weather. I was ecstatic.
I flitted through the bosque. My gait even took on the lightness that enveloped me as I glided amongst the trees, dodging low hanging branches and skipping over roots shooting through the soil.
After a couple of hours, I grew a bit tired and hungry for breakfast. The sun grew hotter, and warned me that summer was still around in the afternoon. I exited the trails closest to the river and walked along a gravel pathway to ease my transition to “everyday life.” Soon I crossed over the street leading to my parked car, waiting for me amongst the shading, gigantic cottonwoods.
As I started the engine of my car, I was transported back from my in-depth and exhilarating experience with nature to my everyday life. COVID-19 was still with me, tyrannizing my thoughts and actions, but at least for a short time I escaped and found sanctuary and nurturance from a swath of nature just a few miles from my home. It was a blessing I accepted with gratitude.
About the Author: Dr. Denise R. Ames
Dr. Ames’ varied life experiences— teaching, scholarly research, personal reflections, and extensive travels—have contributed to her balanced and thoughtful perspectives. Earning a doctorate in world history education, she has taught secondary schools, universities, a community college, and lifelong learners. In 2003, Dr. Ames founded the educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness that develops globally-focused books and educational resources for grade 9-university. She has written eight books, plus numerous blogs, lesson plans, articles, newsletters, teaching units, and conducted professional development workshops for the non-profit and its clients.
Dr. Ames is now developing her new program: Turn, Transformation, Understanding, and Reflection Nexus. Turn encourages life-long learners to see things with new eyes, learn from the past, and understand the relationship of all things. She teaches workshops/classes and writes about Turn’s five topics: learning from the past, cross-cultural awareness, five colliding worldviews, elder wisdom, and transformative travel.
Divided: Five Colliding Worldviews and How to Navigate Them has just been released! $14.95
Divided addresses the question on the lips of every American: why can’t we get along? The cultural divide is threatening our democracy and destabilizing our country. Divided looks at the deep cultural divide through the lens of five colliding worldviews—indigenous, traditional, progressive, globalized, and transformative. This approach helps us make sense of our deep divisions and suggests ways of bridging them.
It is urgent that we understand and bridge the cultural divide. Bridging the divide is dependent upon first understanding it. Gaining an understanding of the five worldviews enhances our success of arriving at sensible solutions and increasing civil conversations. If not, rancor and intractability ensue.
Divided is one of nine books written by Dr. Ames and the Center for Global Awareness, check out their offerings! Global Awareness Books