I ask you to consider these thoughts:
Of the many things that I have done in my life to earn a few bucks, working as a guide in both therapeutic and non-therapeutic wilderness programs has been the most rewarding. Currently I work for a company from Durango, Colorado called Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. I was very fortunate recently to be a trainer for a group of new, incoming guides for our burgeoning summer season. Here is a journal entry from that week:
Haycamp Mesa, La Plata County, Colorado
My concerns for remaining "wild places" are many.
Wilderness therapists, outdoor educators and practitioners of eco-psychology consider and believe that extended periods of time in the company of tall trees, wind and animals is healthy and rejuvenating for mind, body and soul….And I also believe this to be true. It is great and it is healing to bring our souls back into wilder places.
But we are not “of” the land anymore in the way that our ancestors once were. We have compartmentalized “nature” as something that exists outside and apart from ourselves.
When we come to visit these quiet, less civilized places with more than 3 or 4 people, we are as unlikely to remember our roots as we are when walking down a concrete sidewalk…We bring with us our “civilized western culture” complete with our egos, our desires and our aversions. We don’t leave them at home as maybe we could. Instead we play them out with each other and knowingly or unknowingly often against each other.
Quite simply when we are walking through the woods we are as lost in our own constructed realities as we are when we perpetuate these realities in the cities. We talk….We talk about ourselves, our relationships, our hopes, children, our stuff, rent, and mortgages, cars our adventures, baseball statistics and football scores….
How many of us are externalizing our awareness? All of us, unless we coma alone are not doing anything new out here. We are just doing what we always do someplace else.
There is good reason not to simply repeat what we do at home when we get out here. I suggest that you do something new. Listen, watch and wait for the seeming nothing of evolution to unfold before your senses.
Put your feet down gently for where there is earth there is life; carry your voices softly for where there is a stirring in the air there is music; drink with exuberance but put nothing back in the source for where there is water there is frailty.
We are no longer of this place but you are invited in to walk as a cherished guest and someday maybe find your way home….
So I ask you again to consider the question: What is wilderness?