I believe in the power of wild places. I believe in wilderness. I am not some crazy hippie but I believe in trees with all of my being. I believe that mountains are deserving of respect and awe. I believe that flowing water gives strength and heals wounds. I hug trees, revere mountains, and worship water on a regular basis.
I have spent many nights sleeping in the woods. Without those nights and the days that connect them I would not be who I am. There are countless clichés I could draw on to describe these places; the wind in one’s hair, the gold twinkling of sunlight on a rippling lake, the sweet smell of pine needles covering the ground. I do not know how best to describe the feeling I get sitting on the top of a boulder, feeling its warmth re-radiating from the sun, listening to the sound of flowing water of a nearby mountain stream. Suffice to say that it is when I am in these places that I know the world is not some huge joke doomed for failure, that we will not all kill each other and everything else on this planet. When I am in wilderness I know that as long as these places exist, as long as people can feel what I am feeling, we are not doomed. When I leave these places doubts return, and I am occasionally left questioning the goodness of the world. When this happens I turn to my photos, my old journals, or others’ writings about the wilderness. I am reminded of its goodness, its ability to heal, and the strength that the wilderness had given me.
I love all things outdoors, but lately I get the greatest fulfillment from climbing. I love to climb rock and ice. I dream about big walls and sheer ice faces, and relish the times I get to experience them. I read stories written by people who are far better climbers that I will ever be; people who push the limits of human endurance, and do thing that seem impossible. I do this partly because I wish I could climb like them, and partly because knowing that those people are out there living their passions makes me appreciate this world more. I am in awe of men and women who are driven to risk their lives simply to discover what they are capable of, people who can imagine no other lifestyle. My world is more complex and amazing because I know of these people.
On the opposite end of the spectrum I know that many people go their whole lives without experiencing the wild first hand. I believe that wilderness is vital to these people as well. Many people have talked to me about the local Dallas climbers lost in Oregon this winter. People love stories like The Perfect Storm. People need Mt. Everest even if they have no desire to climb it. We all live on this planet and wilderness connects us to it, to our home. Whether it be through scuba diving, reading national geographic, watching the Everest Imax movie, or visiting the Zoo, people are inspired by wilderness. Kids dream about future adventures. Adults fantasize about Caribbean vacations. Some of us need to physically experience the wild, but we are all touched by it. Wilderness reminds us of our ancestors who lived in the wild, and makes us to contemplate our place on this blue planet. I believe in the power of wild.
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