Ford Wyatt grew up in a family with a history in the oil and gas industry and thought that was his future, too. That all changed on a backpacking trip through South America that truly connected him to nature.
Ford Wyatt: Imagine you’re 20 years old and that your parents worked in the oil and gas business, your grandparents worked in the oil and gas business, and that you’re about to take a summer internship in the oil and gas business. And you’re wondering, ‘is this for me?’
I was very set in wanting to do something that was traditional. In order to get a job after college, you need to get an internship your junior summer, and in order to get a good internship your junior summer, you need to get a good internship your sophomore summer. At the same time, you always sit there and you ask, ‘what else is there? What else can I be doing?’
December 2015 – Ford’s best friends make him a proposition.
Ford Wyatt: They came to me and said, “Ford, we want to do this crazy backpacking trip through South America.” They didn’t really know what they were doing. They didn’t know where they were gonna be going or what kind of adventures they were gonna be having. They just wanted to go and just explore and experience. It sounded just, frankly, kind of incredible.
It’s somewhat of a societal pressure that you feel. If I was gonna miss this summer, I would be passed up, just another engineer that didn’t have the same credentials as another engineer.
My dad had said it’s okay. My mom said it’s okay. And so then I was told myself, ‘I think this is gonna be okay.’
There are these islands sort of sprinkling Lake Titicaca, and some of them are pretty far out in the lake. This place, we hiked to the top, just as the sun was setting. I got hit my a gust of wind and I just said, “Wow.” It was absolutely gorgeous. Light just piercing through these clouds that were really almost staccato, and the combination of this deep blue lake and this bright orange golden-yellow sun; it looked like it was just vibrating. It just had this incredible intensity to it.
I practice meditating, and so in that moment, what we did is focused on breathing in just pure, good gratitude intention and putting it into the earth. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but you could feel it. I felt it.
Thinking about just how much time it had taken for these islands and lakes and mountains to form, millions of years, billions of years, and how little time that I was here, that made me feel small. We forget to see the big picture. We forget to see Earth as a whole, and we lose our sort of sense of self.
Oil ran in my blood, it was what my family had done. I didn’t really think of it as something…I don’t want to say negative because I still don’t think of it as negative. I just think of it as something that needs to be changed, just a paradigm that needs to be changed. So, when it came time to get another job the next summer, I decided pretty firmly that life’s too short. I’ve got to be doing something that I do my part. So I decided, I love energy, I know energy, I’ve worked in energy so I want to do renewable energy.
My dad said, “Renewable energy is going to be harder. Is this really what you want to do?” And I said, “Yeah, yeah.”
I have power to change how much we pollute and the way we use energy and the way we think about the world. That’s where I do have power, and that’s where maybe people can feel big. You know, nature has its own ways.