Most of us here in the contemporary world keep the wilderness at arm’s length. We are conditioned by culture to treat the wilderness as other, that it has no bearing on our health or well being. Even with the rise of the environmental movement, useful as it is, we still tend to other the environment as a place that humans don’t belong. In some ways, this is true. That’s not wrong. Humans as a species certainly don’t belong in the middle of the ocean or on top of a mountain. We were, after all, a species that developed in liminal spaces, between the plains and the trees. We wandered the vast woods and explored the wide open spaces of East Africa long before we lived in cities. Even when we began to migrate outward, we tended to stay close these ecotones and stray away from places we knew would have trouble surviving. Only later, with the rise of more advanced technology and the help of our domesticated pack animals, we were able to cross mountains and survive on islands in the pacific. But, through all this time and all that space, we developed an appreciation for the power and majesty of the natural world. We learned to respect it and, for however much we wished otherwise, learned that it isn’t going to respect us. We are at its mercy. We still are its mercy, even in our global society. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still find time to appreciate the power and scope of nature in other ways.
- Finding the right place to appreciate nature
There are lots of ways to find time and appreciate nature if you just stop and think for a second. It can seem incredibly difficult but in all actuality, nature is all around. We are within it even in the confines on our homes. We cannot escape it and, as befitting its mischievous nature, it often enters into our lives in ways we can’t quite predict. Whether you live in an RV campground or in a luxury home, pests, rain and other natural forces will find their way in. It’s just how nature works. Let’s look at this idea a little closer and start by building a narrative focused on ways to appreciate nature instead of fearing it.
Finding your own way forward
Tom Jennnings is a man who lives in suburban Winnipeg. He likes looking for places to camp, watching birds and books about civil war history. As he gets deeper into his thirties, he’s begun to feel the urge to get back to nature in order to better understand himself. But how best to do it? Well he could go on periodic hikes. That’s one way and he considers it. But it isn’t enough. He wants the authentic dream walker experience. He wants to better understand himself in a way that takes a deeper amount of effort. He could also go sailing but that’s bit too much of an expensive and alien experience. Finding himself at sea isn’t quite the way he wants to do things. Finally, Tom decides that he’ll go with what he’s always loved to do anyway. He’s going to look for places to camp and meet the wilderness that way.
Staying within the wilderness
Having camped and looked for places to camp before, Tom knows most of the drills. He knows how to find his own water and he knows what campgrounds are open to the public and which one require money before you can stay within them. He knows all the processes and so he doesn’t quite need to worry about how to locate the best places to camp. Instead he can focus on himself and what he needs from himself and from nature. It his emotions he’s going to focus on, his feelings about how he’s lived and what he should do next. This is the great unspoken power of nature and one that doesn’t often come up when discussing how to commune with nature in a meaningful way. How intimate and personal nature can get, even when it seems so abstract. It’s always inside all of us.