Soon I set forth on yet another journey that leads me to a part of this country that I have never seen, or more importantly, heard. I am off to the PNW. Astoria and the Oregon coast to be exact.
Lewis and Clark National Historic Site has asked that I travel to their park with my recording equipment in tow. My goal? To recreate the natural and cultural sounds that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark encountered during the culmination of their famous journey westward in the 19th century.
It is a huge honor that the park considered me for the job, one they take very seriously. And I do so for two main reasons.
The first is that I truly believe these recordings have the power to further aid conservation efforts.
They say no other sense has the power to invoke emotion and/or memory more than your sense of hearing. Maybe your sense of smell might have something to say about that, but for me personally, sound is everthing.
By capturing these sounds and bringing them to the public, I hope to invoke the memories of past vistors to the PNW. I hope to remind them of a honeymoon, a first kiss, a family vacation, a loved one long since gone, a moment of solitude, of completedness, of emptiness.
And for those who have never been, I hope to let them aurally travel to this place, with the aim to inspire them to make the journey. For those who can’t make the journey, I hope to instill a sense of wonder of the mysteries this corner of the earth holds.
And by doing this, I believe these recordings will inspire people. They will remind people. And they will have the capacity to raise awareness of the beauty and importance of this place and thus its conservation.
Secondly, I feel this particular project may be my chance to solidify my future as a natural sounds recordist. Sure, I have been recording for two years now, but mostly because I proposed a project. Never because someone else saw enough value in my work to personally ask that I take on a project.
In addition to this project, Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks have funded a proposal for me to be their official natural sounds recordist. I will travel to these parks seven times over the next year to produce a massive soundscape project that will be used for education and outreach.
This is my chance. This is my chance to produce awesome products that inspire and conserve. This is my chance for a future I desire. This my chance for a legacy of sorts. Or as Keaton Henson framed it, “If you must work, work to leave some part of you on this earth”.
My intent isn’t to sound conceited or to overinflate my role here, but this may be my Ansel Adams moment. My chance to leave something that is remembered forever. Something that makes a difference. Something that keeps our public lands public and protected from interests other than those that are natural and wild.
No, I don’t think I’m the aural Ansel Adams or will likely become that. But I do know that if I don’t treat this as a huge opportunity becauase of the reasons I stated above, I’ll never become that. And that’s just not acceptable for me. This I hope is my life’s work.
And ultimately, that’s what I want. I want to produce something, leave something behind that inspires the further conservation of our most valued treasures–the National Parks.
To paraphrase John Muir, “The sounds are calling and I must go and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.”