Only a year and a half ago I quit my job and took some time to find a new path in life. So here I am now, after almost a year in the National Park Service (NPS), thinking about how far I’ve come. I’m trying to find out what I have achieved this past year. Before I left for the States I didn’t spend much time to set any expectations, I was so busy packing up everything that I didn’t pay much attention to what lied ahead.
The only goals I remember I had was to find out if this really is what I want to do and to learn what it takes to be a guide. I can tell you, I’ve achieved both of these things. I found out that I feel so much better after a day of talking to visitors, helping them connect to the park I’m working in. Have them enjoy nature just as much as I do, or at least have them enjoy it just a bit more than before.
So I can say I’m now a very rich person, even though I’ve been living on savings for a full year.
My perception of what it means to be a guide has changed dramatically. I thought that I would take people to different places, tell them about the things they are seeing and then move to the next stop. Pretty much what every city guide does. Tell them some fun facts and that’s it.
It turns out that it’s slightly more complicated than that.
In the last year I’ve learned about a thing called interpretation. It has been developed by the NPS and the people who worked in the NPS for many years. It takes time to write a good interpretive program. First you have a good look at the things that make a park unique. Here at White Sands that is obviously the white sand, but also the animals and the plants living out here. Don’t forget the geological and human history. Then you’re going to tie these things together through a theme and look for points of connection that everybody can understand, things like death or camaraderie. When you do this successfully the visitor will start to feel a connection to the park, that hopefully results in the want to protect the park and its resources.
At White Sands I’ve been performing a program that takes place just before sunset. In my program I’m using counting steps to help visitors to understand time. Also I use images to help them see what the landscape looked like so many years ago. That together with my storytelling hopefully results in an awe for the landscape we’re standing in.
After many years I now have a goal in life.
I want that every person can experience that same amazement that I feel when I see a park or landscape. As for my richness, I don’t want or need a lot of money, I just want to do this the rest of my life. I just hope that I’ll be able to make enough income to live on with my own business.