Why we need it.
Have you ever felt that connection with nature that stood with you for some time. That dew drop on a blade of grass, the sound of rushing river water, the smell of pine trees, or the call of an animal. They all stir passions within us that stay with us for a long time.
Those are the things that call us to the wild. It may be something in our genetic code, perhaps from our ancestors or a memory from our distant past that causes our hairs to stand. Whatever the case, you know what I mean when I ask you to evoke the memories that made you realize you love a place. Be it a mountain, a lake, a glacier, or a beautiful horizon. You feel something when you are there. That is what I feel when I am in the mountains. The sights and smells are with me even when I am not there, and a large part of my life involves trying to get back to that place, as often as I can.
Why is that? Is it the beauty, the grand scale of the place, the air, or the splendor of something we cannot understand? How about all of it, every bit of the beauty that you see and never saw before. It is such a novel experience; it becomes one with you. I often marvel at the expanse of a mountain horizon in the Adirondacks or the foggy mist during an early morning kayak run. What is it about these experiences that causes me to pursue them?
People say we long for those things we cannot have, but the natural world has no owner. It belongs to all of us, as stewards or guardians of the things we hold dear to us. Yes, even polluters love the experience of being outdoors. They just don't appreciate it enough to protect it. But there is always something that amazes them about the great outdoors that is why they are there in the first place. The bright red color of an Alaskan Salmon or the deep green expanse looking over the Kalahari, it is new to us, no matter how many times we see it.
No matter how many times I go into the wild, it never gets old. The Adirondacks, Alaska, Mount Hood, and the Black Forest are all experiences worth pursuing. If you have never been there, you wouldn't understand the way I do, but if you see it even in pictures, it will arouse in you the curiosity to wonder, “what would it be like to be there?”.
The wild call us because it is a wonder, a spectacle from where we came from, and it evokes in us a feeling of discovery and triumph. We need it because it renews our faith in this earth and it sooths us when we see the ills of our time. The sheer specter of a beautiful horizon or the hair-raising brush with a bear or a coyote, bring us closer to something we have been missing- it brings us closer to ourselves. Those moments are opportunities for us to realize who and what we are and to come to understand that we are but a spec in the sand on this planet we call home. We marvel at it because it is everything we want to be. It is perfection, it is a reflection of what we are not but we so desire. Keep striving to get back there to that place that turns on all of those emotions. Don’t worry, eventually you will become one with nature. Only then you will understand…