The Other Road Less Travelled

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 Where I live the mountains are king and the prairie is a lowly and often forgotten cousin. But today was different if only for me. I was out in the prairie (rather than the mountains) today and this became more clear than usual. The grasslands that make up most of the state that I live in often get overlooked because of the grandiose mountains that are strung along the west. But today I decided that less would be better. Driving east I hurriedly understood the meaning of less: there was seemingly nothing. But this is the point I reminded myself.

When I stopped at the Buttes to hike around I really started to understand the less-is-better mantra. The dirt, the shrubs, the rock; they were all different and beautiful in a way that is unfortunately often overlooked. Spending a few hours out in the nothingness, listening to nothing and doing nothing, the beauty really started to show itself. There were lisps of snow between the rocks and cacti that looked innocent enough until stepping through up to your waist in the cold, windswept whiteness. The wind is constant, and a constant reminder that it is the land that is in control and not you. This is rough but beautiful country.

Many may call this land wasteland but this is a misnomer. What is wasted about the beauty of a natural prairie, the inner-workings of nature at its most simple and yet complex. How can we look at the nothingness, the quiet and the solitude and call it a waste? It is not a waste to the multitudes of unseen animals that make it their home. It is not a waste to those who take the time to go “the other way”.

I ate a simple lunch and laid on a rock, taking a nap in the wind and the cold; the sun in my face. I woke up with nothing on my mind and thanked the land for sharing its wasted beauty. I thought of all the ways such land might be viewed. Some view it for the minerals and gas that it contains. Some view it with regard for the plow. Others don’t view it as anything more than a long and boring stretch of land that stands between them and the next city. However, today I viewed this land as what it is: a reminder that more is not necessarily better, that less is often beautiful, and that it is a waste not to realize these things.

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