Don’t Die Wondering…

Pacific Northwest Nature-5

Sitting along the shore of Elliott Bay, I often wonder what it would have been like centuries ago when Native Americans spent the summertime in Seattle.  The Seattle summer with its perfect weather is special, so I imagine it would have been heaven on earth to see the sun setting on this land so long ago when the wilderness ruled.

Pacific Northwest Nature-12

Back in those days, getting outside and involved was not much of a question as physical interaction with nature was a part of everyday life.  A hard life no doubt, but I would bet more satisfying too as everything you owned likely came from the things around you: animals, earth and community.

Animals and earth to feed and clothe, and a community to share, love, explore and work the land.

Pacific Northwest Nature-13Not quite the same scene we have today, where two minutes “on-line” results in the delivery of food, clothing and most importantly the latest tech-toy delivered right to the front door without having to leave the house.

Products produced by factories scattered all over the globe. A crazy concept even today, something unthinkable a couple hundred years ago. Most everything I own I have no real clue as to its true origin.

Pacific Northwest Nature-1Still, amid all this technology and social media shrill that drowns our senses from the calls of the real world, there are always reminders that take us out of this artificial shell and plop us down in the middle of life.  Something to makes us reassess our obsession with material possessions.

The nudge of a wet nose from Man’s Best Friend, or driving through a mountain pass with the sun dipping below the horizon is just what is needed for us to get back to the basics. Back to the feeling of living.

Pacific Northwest Nature-2

The past few weeks have had me traveling around the Pacific Northwest with work, and instead of flying I made a point to drive; taking the more scenic routes and allowing myself a few more days to take in the sights.

My mind spinning a bit as I would try to reconcile life today with how it was more than 100 years ago. Getting lost in how different things are today made me wonder what the next 100 years will bring…and how foreign our time today will appear to our future selves.

Pacific Northwest Nature-3Back to the early 90s, when I took off for China for the first time, I had this small sticker on my bag that read: Don’t Die Wondering.

The message the sticker represented fascinated me, as I loved to wonder…in fact, I was more often in dream than I was running around nature. The message reminded me that dreaming and wondering is just part of the formula, and moving forward by doing and experiencing is how we complete the circle and find a happy life.

Pacific Northwest Nature-8I still have this sticker and message, and more than ever realize how important this simple slogan is: to wonder, to dream and to go out and do.  To create a unique path in life. For the most part, I imagine that people in history also followed this same simple line of reasoning.

A reminder that it is a never-ending process.

Wonder. Dream. Do. Happiness.

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Pacific Northwest Nature-4 I suppose that the message on this sticker was a simple warning that if we spend too much of our time wondering what could have been? With the mind spinning to answer the unanswerable, “what if?” It is easy to get lost in the irrelevant past while new opportunities slip by.

Why sit wondering what it would be like, when adventures and experiences lie right outside the door?

Pacific Northwest Nature-7It will be impossible to fully understand what Native Americans or frontiersmen of the past thought when they saw the dawn rise every day over Seattle hundreds of years ago, but I imagine it must have recharged them.

A perfect start to the day, a time to admire the land and contemplate what was to be explored and admired.  With no TV or Internet to tempt and waste hours of a day, I would think it must have been exciting to be immersed in nature as a part of daily life.  True, such a life would be hard, but in a sense also simple.

Pacific Northwest Nature-10As this great summer winds down, I am left thinking that we will continue to push ourselves further away from this great land of ours, with the result of losing touch with the physical nature of living.

As we load ourselves up with processed foods and mass-produced ’emotions’ emitting from our screens, at some point we will begin wondering what could have been ~ what if we had moved forward and taken the advice from a 30-year-old sticker: Don’t Die Wondering.

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Looking forward to seeing my Special Ed friends this year at the Pendleton Round-Up, and to quote one of the happiest faces I have ever seen at the early morning Cowboy Breakfast “This is my favorite time of year…even better than Christmas!”

Looking forward to seeing my Special Ed friends this year at the Pendleton Round-Up, and to quote from one of the happiest smiles I have ever seen from them at the early morning Cowboy Breakfast: “This is my favorite time of year…even better than Christmas!”




169 Comments on “Don’t Die Wondering…

    • Ha, ha, thank you Dedy ~ the beautiful canvases of Mother Nature does show how lucky we all are. Take care and enjoy the rest of your summer.

  1. The beauty of your photography can only be amplified by the sharp insights that accompany it. Thank you for returning me to the memories of this summer, road tripping around the Pacific Northwest in an old 60’s extended VW Bus after catching the Rainbow Gathering in Utah. I don’t own a cell phone or camera, so I didn’t get any photos. I did at one time own a camera, and have some pictures on my blog to prove it :P. My old blog posts in my archives are actually a similar style to yours, but not as good photos or prose lol. Keep up the amazing work, Much Love

    • Thank you ~ nothing quite like getting lost in the environment no matter where you are, and being able to experience it (with camera in hand makes it that much better for me). Sounds like you’ve been on quite an adventure yourself with the same thoughts in mind. Enjoy the final days of summer! Cheers…

  2. Beautiful work, as always Randall. Your post brought to mind what we’ve been experiencing in rural Moldova – a connectedness to the land, a return to a time when individuals knew the supply chain of their food and products (in many cases, it’s grown in their backyard, or bartered with a friend or neighbor). Last night, Shawn and I watched an interesting program about consumerism, and what you write here echoes some of its main points:

    Stunning pictures as always – wonderful light, and crisp, sharp images. Hope you’re enjoying autumn!

    • Thanks Tricia, it is nice getting out and finding these smaller places that haven’t lost themselves in pure consumerism…and sounds like you and Shawn have found that in Moldova… Will check out the program. Summer went by too quickly, back in Asia now. Cheers!

  3. I’ve enjoyed your story and the very pogniant message Don’t die wondering ! Ah so true !
    I loved particularly your shoots of the mist with the two fishermans, very atmospheric; the shoot of the sea, which had a strong sensory could almost smell the sea; and the sea sunset..lovely perspective and landscape to die by ..

    • Nothing like being out and surrounded by beauty of the land…thank you, wish you a great week!

  4. Beautiful set of images, Randall! How true the need to not die wondering. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous images and inspiring words!

  5. This weekend my friends and I discussed trying to find an old fashioned fruit and veg market in Glasgow, we’re fed up of plastic tasting supermarket vegetables.
    I love your photos they help me to imagine, one day when I travel I’m inspired to keep such a photo journal.

    • There is nothing quite like home-grown produce… Look forward to your future adventures & photo-journal, may it parallel your incredible vocal adventures!

  6. Having just read your next post about your time in Hunan and the cultural dancing, this was a complete, but wonderful, contrast. Beautiful pictures that truly captures all of the wondrous moments you encounter.

    • Great, thank you so much for noticing this ~ it is quite a contrast. Both wonderfully perfect moments in very different settings.

  7. What should I say, Dalo?

    To me, this post is a treasure trove…absolutely jaw dropping images.

    I had reached a point where the disconnect from nature was too unbearable that I decided to quit from the IT work in city and go back.

    Now, after almost an year away from the city and back in the lap of nature in my village, feels great.

    Thanks a lot for sharing your insights and images 🙂

    • Wonderful Sreejith, I think the decision you made in terms of your career is just what it necessary in life at times (it is a scary, powerful decision that will bring on some fear). It is so good to hear that you have re-connected with nature (and life), it seems such a difficult thing to do these days. Making such a decision is real power. Cheers!

      • Thank you so much, Dalo 🙂

        I haven’t received this sort of support and encouragement in my life before joining this forum, that really helps to overcome other personal challenges too 🙂

  8. This post really resonates with me. It is my current goal, but I’ve not yet figured out how to meld sustainability, nature and eluding technology into a happy trio. I’ll get there. Thank you for your mindful and reminding post of what is truly important.

    • I think this trio is a tough one to figure out, but every now & then when it happens, it is pretty great. Cheers to a great week ahead!

  9. I honestly think the only true death in life is when we cease to wonder, be curious, to learn. When I see youth sparkling in the eyes of a 70/80/90 year old person it is curiosity & wonder is it not that keeps us young and living life to the fullest? The only true anti-aging system there is ☺ Thank you for sharing your stunning photos and beautiful thoughts today. Peace, jules

    • You bring up a great point ~ perhaps the best moments in time are when seeing a child’s eyes shine with curiosity and amazement and a sparkling eye of a senior (70s+) who is in the middle of living life 🙂 Wonderful, thank you Jules ~

      • You’re most welcome. Thank you for following…really it means so much to me. Be well

  10. The photo with the horse and open landscapes are amazing storytellers… I usually see a lot of horses, while doing hiking and mountain walking 🙂

  11. 1 – I love the title of the post
    2 – The pictures told the story and i didn’t even read it the first time
    3 – It is the “what ifs” that kills us inside bit by bit.
    4 – While looking at the pictures you can actually feel every season in it, being the cold, the water sliding with the boat and even the dogs playing with the stick.
    5 – My faith in humanity for today has been restored. Thank you.

    • Beautiful words Anja, thank you! Something about getting out and doing makes the day/week/year that much sweeter. Wish you well!

  12. Just beginning to explore your blog…love all the photos here. Thanks for following my blog and doing that feature on Tacloban!

  13. I was looking for uplifting posts to read and thought of digging back in your posts…a reliable source of such material. And I found it! Beautiful pictures again, from home this time, and thoughts I very much agree with…and ponder from time to time. A treat on a Saturday afternoon.

    • Thank you Tiny ~ this is one of my favorite posts…close to home, and just the great scenes of a life I love. Cheers and wish you a great day!

      • Hey there to you, Sir. 😉 You’re back!! Yay! *jumps into your arms* I’ve missed you, Dalo!! The neighborhood is never the same without you. I hope your travels were productive and filled with some fun along the way. Welcome home…

      • Very nice, spent most of the week isolated at Hood Canal on the Puget Sound and did some hiking and a bit of photography…getting ready to head back out to China next week so had to get all the nature in I could 🙂

      • Isolation sounds perfect to me. My hope is that it was a successful trip and it sounds as if it was, Dalo. I spend the weekend on Galveston Island at a beach house in hopes of catching some rays, however, it was a bust in the sunshine department, as it was upper 50s and misty the entire weekend. Rained and was foggy the whole time. I didn’t let that stop me. The other four women I was with thought I was crazy for walking the sand, but I relished in the melancholy of the mood. It was lovely. Our nights were found around a table at the pub and a bit of karaoke, so not all was a bust. People got to listen to me sing. Poor souls. Lol

        Anyway. Umm, I just rattled on about nothing and spammed your beautiful post. Sorry. Safe travels back to China, Sir. I’m glad you found yourself some time to reconnect with nature. It always suits you when you do. Hugs to you, always.

      • One of the better days hiking in February, that’s for sure ~ wildlife and sunshine 🙂 Sounds like you had a full weekend as well, agree nothing quite like the feel of sand under feet. Cheers!

      • Sunshine? I haven’t see that in weeks. What’s wrong with southern Texas?! We can’t buy a ray if sunshine. My weekend was delightful, Dalo. The women I was surrounded by know how to have a good time. I’m really glad you enjoyed your trip. Winter wildlife in abundance, I bet.

  14. “Wonder, to dream and to go out and do. To create a unique path in life.” That is all I hope to do! And bring glory to God while doing it! Thanks for the encouragement this morning. More power to create my own happiness 🙂
    Enjoy the day!

  15. As always, you capture your home base with such a beautiful eye. Living simply is wonderful but hard to get back to once we have surrounded ourselves with more.

    • It seems the older we get, the more difficult it becomes…but great when we are able to do it.

  16. Pingback: Die Wandering | The Dustmobile Diaries

    • Thank you Vance ~ Die Wandering ~ I love it, like the old saying goes: “I hope to die with my boots on…”

  17. What a life have we created? Someone is making things to make a living. We are buying the things, not always when we truly need them, but if we won’t buy, someone won’t manage to make a living. If we decide to go natural and till the land, we will fail again because there is not enough good land and clean water. Everything seems to run out – water, land, fish…

  18. I like that you say you made a point to drive so that you could see all of the sights.. and what wonderful visions you brought us with these photographs 🙂

  19. A teacher would told us that losing time was due to have doubts. Don’t die wondering is good advice, to not be stuck in thoughts or fears. The purity of the landscape of Elliott Bay speaks very well of the heart of the people to preserve it : )

  20. You show in your pictures the beauty of Mother Nature, Pachamama, Mahsi, Coatlicue, called by our ancestral Native Americans, by so many different names according to their tribe from Alaska to Land’s End in Patagonia, And Worldwide through History.
    Great job Randall. 😊

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