Never have I ever been so thankful to not be in America during a political debate season. If you know me at all, you know that politics and I have a complicated relationship. And if you don’t know me, it pretty much boils down to this: I cry before I vote, but I vote anyway. I’ve never loved a candidate, but I also know what an honor and a privilege and a responsibility voting is. Plus, being a good citizen and all that, you know?
But if I were to say one thing, it is this. Right now, the US election debacle scares me. What is happening over there, fellow Americans? I’m only catching snippets, but what I’m seeing does not make me excited for November.
Moving on, though. Because thankfully, this is not a blog about politics. All the praise hands.
This is a blog about travel. And at the moment, this is a blog about beauty and amazement and good things. And glowworms.
Because despite all the insanity and negativity I’m seeing in my Facebook feed, I spent the day at the Waitomo caves a couple of weeks ago and was reminded that pure, unadulterated beauty just for the sake of beauty does indeed exist. And I think we need to focus a little bit more on that, and a little bit less on the all the bad that can so easily capture our thoughts and attention.
When I first began planning my trip in earnest almost a year ago, the very first activity I put on my must-do list was visiting the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand. I had seen pictures on Pinterest and I had fallen in love. Twinkling dots on the cave ceilings, looking like a million little stars, but actually the pulsing light of tiny moth larvae. Yep. I had to go.
Mom was my travel buddy in NZ, so I first had to convince her to visit the cool way (black water rafting) as opposed to the boring way (boat ride). Thankfully, my mom is game for just about anything, so we soon found ourselves geared up in wetsuits, boots, headlamps and helmets. We grabbed inner tubes, practiced jumping off of waterfalls in our gear and hiked down into the caves.
A couple of notes on the experience of the caves:
It was cold.
We were in caves, after all – underground with rushing water all around. We hiked by the light of our headlamps, trudged waist-deep through the river and made two jumps backward off of underground waterfalls. So. Fun.
Then we got to the glowworm grotto.
We linked tubes and turned off all the lights. Thousands of tiny pinpricks of light glowed from above. Stars, I thought. Or twinkle lights like the ones I string up in the backyard. But these were bugs. Bug larvae, actually, if you want to get specific.
Just seeing them was incredible. Beautiful. Awesome.
But then I learned more about the bugs and was even more convinced that glowworms are all the reminder we need to appreciate good and beautiful simply for the sake of good and beautiful.
Because glowworms serve absolutely no purpose.
The larvae glows to attract food to a small string like a web. And once they hatch, the resulting moths only survive for 48 hours. They have no stomach. They cannot eat. They are born, have sex, lay eggs and die. That’s it. (Come up with your own tongue in cheek comment here – I’m sure there are many.)
So, you see, glowworms’ only purpose, as far as I can tell, is to glow.
How amazing is that?
To me that’s God saying, hey, there is some cool stuff you can just appreciate and love. It doesn’t all have to be so much work. It doesn’t all have to matter. It can just be there because I put it there – and that’s a really good thing.
So to all of you worrying and furrowing and throwing your hands up over this crisis or that, remember the glowworms. Remember that beauty exists. And maybe it’s pointless, but it’s also really, really good.
And then maybe go find some beauty of your own. Because we’ll need all the reminders we can get of good stuff come November.