More than 100 years ago, John Muir was trekking through the vast and mesmerizing Pacific Northwest, climbing every mountain in sight (in a three piece suit!)
So who was this guy? For starters, he was known as the “Father of National Parks” and “John of the Mountains,” as his moving words inspired politicians and lawmakers on all levels to preserve the most beautiful spots in this United States
And, all those years ago he was writing about how we lose our sense of being alive by working too much, focusing on making money, and putting off the things that bring us joy. Sound familiar? If only he knew what was coming.
A bit of a visionary, Muir was a bit of a visionary, so perhaps he did see it coming, “I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”
As my husband and I are now traveling through this very same region in our RV on a most epic road trip, this sentiment has become our life. We keep crossing the path of this iconic legend who seems to have visited every mountain in the area. There’s a comfort in seeing the poetic words of Muir etched into the wall of another visitor’s center as we get ready to explore a new mountain, knowing that he was there too. It’s a bit like finding an old friend in a new place; as though his spirit is guiding our journey.
As we travel, I often stop and consider how it could be that someone who lived so long ago—in a time that lacked fast travel and technology—managed to accomplish so much.
Then, of course, it hits me.
We may have faster travel, and more options for anything today then ever before, but we have also never been so disconnected from the world and one another than we are today. If we didn’t have all of the modern technology distracting us from truly living, we could probably solve all of the world’s problems while still seeing every inch of it. We’re told that we are “so advanced,” yet it seems to me that, as a collective society, we’ve never been more alone, disconnected, dis-eased, and unhappy.
Personally, my husband and I are living in nature nearly full-time now, so I’m often able to clear the fog that living in our “modern world” inflicts upon our minds. We’ve traded everything material for the minimalist RV road life, and we are loving it.
We’ve visited 10 national parks so far, countless miles of Pacific coastline, mountains, deserts, and forests. Each one sits with its own spectacular energy and beauty. We often have no cell service and it’s glorious. Most importantly, it’s changing us for the better. We are shedding the layers of separation programmed in us by life in society. There is deep healing taking place for both of us—as individuals as well within our relationship. Our minds are being expanded through connection with the Earth.
The words I offer do not really do justice to the profound effect of this time connecting with the splendor of nature. Silence becomes a way of life in the woods, and when we do arrive in a city or suburban sprawl, it quickly becomes almost an assault on our senses. We are finding that the longer we’re out in the wild, the more uncomfortable it is to try to fit back into the rat race that defines life in a city.
I’m well-aware that not everyone is willing or able to walk away from their life and live on the road. That said, I’m also well-aware that every single one of us can make time each day to spend in nature. It doesn’t have to be remote, unspoiled wilderness to be healing and have an effect. This isn’t a “go big or go home” task—five minutes a day on some green grass under a tree or overlooking the ocean starts the process.
When was the last time you unplugged your devices and plugged into nature? Trust me; all the answers are there. It’s my hope that sharing these iconic and powerful words of John Muir will inspire you to get outside:
1. “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
2. “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
3. “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
4. “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
5. “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”
6. “I never saw a discontented tree.”
7. “One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.”
8. “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
9. “Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.”
10. “Most people are on the world, not in it. ”
I hope to see you in the woods. May it be of benefit because nature will heal us.
Author: Lindsay Carricarte-Jones
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Author’s own
Editor: Danielle Beutell
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Taia Butler