UNDER THE SPELL OF BEAUTY
By Kara Patajo
Growing up in the glorious shadow Mt. Rainier, a passion for beauty grew organically in me. As a senior at the University of Washington, I have been searching for meaningful projects to contribute to, and I am excited to be interning with And Beauty for All to help spread the word about protecting, enjoying, and creating beauty.
Hiking with friends, camping with family, nature photography, and seeing the majestic mountain gave me regular doses of the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, the Cascade Mountains, and little slices of Mother Nature’s work in my own backyard.
Hiking was a popular pastime at my high school near Mt. Rainier. Opportunities were abundant, including hikes to refreshing waterfalls and others that ended with a rewarding, breathtaking view of the mountain (like this one from Tolmie Peak Lookout, a favorite spot).
Commonly, my friends and I hopped in the car early on a weekend morning to trade suburban life for the state’s most popular national park.
Beyond creating connections with friends through beauty-seeking adventures, I also have strengthened family ties and created treasured memories through summer camping trips. We are coast-lovers, so over the years I spent many weeks camping next to the roaring waves of the sea and its sandy, rocky shores. Soaking in the beauty of the ocean often provided me with a source of artistic inspiration and a peace of mind that allowed for soul-searching and reflection.
Photography has been a cherished hobby of mine since I was old enough to hold a flip phone. I used my digital, cellular, Polaroid, and eventually DSLR cameras to capture my most cherished moments and the most stunning views I encountered. Unintentionally, the main use for my cameras has become nature photography. Not only do I enjoy capturing the beauty of nature in a nondisruptive way, but I also love that photos allow me to share the beauty that I witness with others.
Finally, common sightings of Mt. Rainier throughout nearly my entire life have conditioned me to seek beauty as often as possible. However, my college career has really been the turning point for me, during which I truly realized my appreciation for beauty and the real effects it has on my state of mind, physical well-being, and connectedness to others.
Moving to Seattle to attend the University of Washington pushed me further away from my beloved Mt. Rainier. Luckily, I am still fortunate enough to catch occasional glimpses of the mountain. But I’ve also discovered many new urban green spaces, such as Discovery Park and the Washington Park Arboretum, that allow me to enjoy natural beauty while living in a big city.
More than anything else, living in an urban setting contrasted with my earlier experiences in a way that caused me to fully recognize my appreciation and passion for beauty. Because of my encounters with natural beauty, I have developed interests in environmental appreciation, conservation, and preservation. After all, natural beauty is only possible when it is given the respect that it needs to thrive.
Kara Patajo is a senior at the University of Washington in Seattle, majoring in political science communications, and an intern for AND BEAUTY FOR ALL.