Pi Day Adventures Part 2: Expectations vs. Reality

Hello, I am back with another blog post about my Haw River State Park adventures! This is a continuation of my previous blog post, so I highly recommend reading that post and then come back to read this one! To give a quick recap, I discussed the many trails located within the state park and my journey along part of the Piedmont Loop Trail. This trail connects to the Wetlands Boardwalk, which leads to the central focus of the whole park: the Haw River! I was very excited and anxious to finally view the river I had been researching lots about.

Expectations. They can be beneficial, but they can also be harmful. We encounter and deal with expectations every day. We may have high expectations of a certain course or certain teacher because of what other students have said. We may have good expectations of particular places or experiences because of photos we have seen. We may have impractical expectations of celebrities or influencers online because of what they choose to share on the web. And sometimes, well actually a lot of the time, our expectations fail us. The teacher is not as good as you had hoped. The experience turns out to be a big waste of money. A celebrity is part of a huge scandal you never saw coming. Despite people and places letting us down, we continue to have these unrealistic expectations. It happens in nature too. We have these expectations that nature should be beautiful or pleasing to the eye; nature should provide us with something useful; etc. But sometimes, nature is just nature. And that is all we should expect nature to be. I had a tough time grappling with this during my trip to the park.  

I had big expectations for the Haw River. It’s over 100 miles long and stretches over 4 different counties. Also, it has an extensive history that I found very fascinating, from its origins with Native Americans to its housing of textile mills to its likely use as a landmark for the Underground Railroad. Additionally, Haw River State Park was noted for its rich diversity in its unique wetlands and large beaver dam population. Even the kind woman at the front desk said the Haw River was a must-see for all guests. It felt like everyone was hyping up the river, including myself. But boy was I underwhelmed when I walked down the boardwalk to view the river for the first time.

I don’t mean to discredit the Haw River, but these are my honest opinions and feelings. But it was wrong of me to have such high expectations of it. However, I must admit that I only was able to see a very small portion of the river. When I first saw the river, it just looked like a plain old river. It had the basic qualities of a river: it had water and that water moved. After my initial letdown and disappointment, I decided to refocus and look at the river in a different way. I walked to see the river as far to my right and left as I could. I wanted to get different viewpoints of the river; I wanted to look at it from up close and from far away. Maybe after viewing it in different ways, I hoped, I would find new beauties in the river and appreciate it in a different way. I began to notice the water move down the water quietly but rapidly. I began to notice the sounds of the water rushing past the different mediums, the different woods, the different trees. I began to notice little bugs soaring across the water as if they were ice skating.

I began to appreciate nature for what it was, not what I wanted it to be.

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