As 2020 came into view, a life divorced from corporate America and the traditional working world gained clarity. Kareen unintentionally created a personal mission statement when, during a low moment, she sympathetically observed, “The parks bring you so much joy, and you want to share that joy with others.”
With whatever time might be left to me, two initiatives dominate the coming years. I fully realize that as a visitor and individual, my impact is modest, but I also believe in the power of sincere personal commitment. So, if I encourage or inform one person, or brighten the day of one ranger or volunteer by showing some appreciation for what they do, that has value and is important to me.
1. To support the parks and the people who care for them to the extent I’m able. This means thanking the people who staff our parks and supporting the parks financially through book sales and philanthropic endeavors.
2. To inform and encourage public interest and support for our parks. I believe investment comes through knowledge. People are more invested in supporting the parks, and in good stewardship, when they are informed. I will do what I can in this regard through publication of written works with a view of the parks systemwide, and through public presentations sharing the system’s diversity, endless natural and human wonders, and relevance to today. Being an active member of the National Park Travelers Club, and encouraging other members, furthers this initiative.
It is easy to despair at the limited impact or influence of one person, but I can only control my own attitude and actions. Collectively, I believe we can make a difference. I choose to make this a public commitment to encourage others to do what they can in a similar spirit. Our opportunities are each our own. I intend to maximize mine to pay a debt in gratitude to the immeasurable gifts the parks have given to me and countless others.