Through the multitude of days that make up our lives, we are called upon to make myriad decisions. If the day is particularly noteworthy, some of these decisions will ripple outward not just through our life, but through the lives of others as well, and through time and space. From small decisions to large decisions, there are many things that guide us, but ultimately, we end up making decisions based on two things: what we believe and what we know. Some people would argue that these two terms are interchangeable, and in some cases I would agree, but in my opinion, they are fundamentally two different things. While I can’t fully quantify how they are different, what I can say in short is that things that one believes are things that can change; whereas things that one knows are immutable and fixed. While that definition isn’t the most elegant, I think it conveys what I am getting at: in life, one has many things that they believe that may change and adapt; but has few things that they inherently know that never change.
The distinction between what one knows and what one believes was in my mind recently as I tried to develop my own hashtag. In case you’re not involved in the insular world that is social media, a hashtag is a searchable phrase, an abbreviation, or a word that either describes something, or sums up something in the real world. It is a means for people to find things on the internet; most notably on Twitter. And yes, it is one those things that us social-media-blogger-personalities do that is decidedly absurd, but at the same time, strangely important. As I ran through idea after idea – some taken, some definitely silly, I kept thinking about what the word – or phrase would mean to me, and what it ultimately represent. At the end of the process, I realized that my hashtag should represent something that I believed in and that I knew.
Once I arrived at that conclusion, my decision was simple: #preservethegood would be my hashtag. And, after I thought about it for a while, there was no doubt that it could be anything else, because it summed up my ethos about life; and about this blog and everything I do in social media. To me, what #preservethegood represents is simple: that at its core, life is an incredible, magical experience. Not just my life; not just your life; but all of life on this planet, and even farther beyond that as well. I know that in the 21st century such unbridled optimism is regarded as a sign of naiveté, but to this day, I honestly believe that there is something fantastic about each day waiting to be found – and something good, even in the darkest of moments.
To me, #preservethegood is how I’ve lived my life all of these years, and how I try to live it each and every day. Sometimes, this responsibility has been simple – as a park ranger, it was my job to protect and preserve the wilderness treasures of our nation. Other times, the responsibility was a personal responsibility, when I’ve helped people on and off the trail. And even other times, it’s been an esoteric responsibility, such as feeding a pack of stray dogs that followed me around for a week during one of my travels. You could perhaps sum it up as a combination of “do the right thing” and the golden rule, but to me, #preservethegood covers it, because it allows one to keep the good not just in your life, but in other people’s lives and in any places at any time.
It also sums up my approach to this blog and my social media presence. I’m often asked why I do what I do, and what my motivation is for doing things. My motivation is to keep a record in my own way of the amazing spots that make up this world for people who might not get to experience them; or for people who want to experience them in the future. And now it sums up my approach to you, my readers and followers, to challenge you in 2015 to #preservethegood yourself.
As you’ve seen above, #preservethegood could mean anything – it could mean helping someone in a time of need; it could be picking up trash on a trail, or a wilderness area; it could be educating people on leave no trace principles; it could be making a difference in any way you want; and it could be just about anything you want as long as you are focused in keeping the magic and the unique positive things in this world and this life. In terms of tangible things, I encourage you, my readers and followers to use the hashtag when you post a photo of something amazing; or when you’re talking about something exceptional you – or someone else has done to improve the world. I look forward to seeing how all of you end up preserving the good in 2015, and you can rest assured that as always, I will keep preserving the good where I find it as well, because as Plato says, “Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.” #preservethegood.