What I learned from living in Milford Sound
A huge challenge is to form an assessment of the past year living in one of the most purely magical places on Earth. How can you sum up a year of your life if in a short essay? Its nigh impossible to do a just job. However I can describe to you what I learned personally. As well as inferences about humans in general and our relationship with the natural world. Visiting wild places, whether Milford Sound or somewhere closer to your home, puts your own world in perspective.
Newfound Optimism For Humanity
In Milford Sound, I was a receptionist at the sole lodge. There I greeted and chatted to hundreds of tourists per day. It was occasionally a hectic place, more details on that can be found here on my travel guide. On reception, I must have spoken to well over ten thousand people over my 11 months there. I met folks from all over such as broke European backpackers, wealthy Americans, Chinese tour groups, solo Japanese travellers, etcetera. If I had to make a judgment about them overall, then I can tell you that they are lovers of nature as well as budding conservationists and potential preservationists. I witnessed countess open-mouthed gapes, a few criers (of happiness I hope), the intimidation of the Fiordland storms. This is awesome, and something I realised after this recent return to suburbia: how the raw beauty and power of Earth can shape our emotions.
What I believe this means is that our dormant feelings toward nature are re-awakening.This is evidenced by the ever-increasing numbers of people visiting the world’s wild places. Milford Sound is the exemplar of the extremities of nature. The end of the road and the bottom of the Earth, in a gigantic national park whose ruggedness has kept civilisation at bay. Yet we are drawn to see the beauty of nature in its extremes. I could see those dormant feelings surface in countless numbers of people. My newfound optimism exists because I witnessed humans craving a deeper connection with nature; and that many of those I saw with that child-like wonder, will hopefully return to their homelands with a newfound respect for their surrounding natural world.
What this Potential Means for You
I would encourage you to join the masses and visit Milford Sound. And I am not selling you anything here, because I am unaffiliated with businesses there. I’m just a former employee now. The New Zealand Tourism marketers say it is the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Subjective, yes, however true in many ways.
Understandably, Fiordland is difficult to get to for many of you. For many it is a lifelong dream to visit the well-photographed region. In the meantime, there is beauty around you at home. I guarantee that there are national or state parks near you. And while maybe not as drastically beautiful as the fiords of New Zealand, you can still be inspired by places close to home.
Or conversely, visiting a place of stark natural beauty encourages you to view your home environment in a new light. If you have an inkling of desire to get out amongst some wilderness, then go for it! There is an innate connection the you have to the Earth that wants to be released, if it hasn’t already. Go out and dig in the earth, plant a garden at your home, go for walks in a nearby forest, hike up a local hill. Living in Milford taught me the importance of these small things as well.
If possible and your situation allows you to, then search for a job or volunteer gig in a national park or other wild area. Try and find a place where you can live and work and away from it all for an extended period. And in doing so, you will surround yourself in the embrace of the earth along with others that you can learn so much from!
Worldwide tourism to beautiful places is increasing exponentially. From the news of the inundated U.S. National Parks this past northern summer, to the huge increase in numbers on the South Island, NZ, and other places across the globe. Just look at Pinterest or similar social media, there you can notice a trend of individuals posting and sharing finds from striking natural places. People want to see for themselves these sights. But what do they take back home with them? Is it possible to be in awe of the natural beauty at home?
Changes are afoot, we are soul-searching as a race. And I believe that the answers lie dormant within us. Experiencing an awe-inspiring place of natural wonder allows us to incorporate these inherent feelings into our everyday lives. Get out and see them if you can, in whatever method you feel comfortable with. Follow those tingly feelings that make you gaze with an open mouth. This is what I am coming to understand myself after 11 months living in Milford Sound. Listen to that childish feeling of wonder and follow it.
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