Saturday, June 03, 2000


I grew up a child of the woods. I never really washed myself clean (except maybe in swim class). I excelled at catching turtles and frogs and throwing moss and swamp scum at my friends. I took for granted nature and all its lessons.

It was only after I grew up and met so many other adults who did not “take to the wilds” that I realized that extracting oneself from nature, while giving the illusion of possessing more control, tends to leave a person a little off.

Now, wilderness for me is an instant transfusion. The ground is grounding. A lake, river or stream puts me in flow. I feel most alive when I'm not in charge, when I'm pitched from the canoe, slip and slide down a muddy trail, get drenched in a torrential downpour, or get windblown on an island. To me, the outdoors is immediate and inescapable, a little fearful. It stirs me up.

Look out from an untouched lake, a bluff, a waterfall or a canyon and my “issues” seem small. It always seems a little surprising to find that after a personal upheaval of the mind or heart, everything in nature continues exactly the same, authentic. You are never so still as when you see a deer, never so elated as when you crest a peak and view the vista, never so alive as when you hear a wolf howl or a loon call, never so entertained as when you watch an otter or the northern lights.

Nature is authentic. It is exactly what it seems to be.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~John Muir

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~Albert Einstein

“A man is related to all nature.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral.” ~John Burroughs

Start small with a swim in the ocean or a lake or a walk in a state park. Throw some friggin’ moss. Get your hands dirty. Stink.

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