Finding the Wilderness Wherever You Are
One of the lifestyle changes I’ve had to make since returning to school is a dramatic scaling back on the amount of time I can spend walking in nature. Over the past year I’ve been lucky to spend three to four days a week walking the sacred landscape of the Bruce Trail. Finding the wilderness has been an excellent way of getting to know the varied countryside. Seeing it on foot has also taught me a bit of the local history. Whether I’m sitting beside a stream in stillness or walking contemplatively, it’s astounding what I’ve learned.
Lately, I’ve bemoaned my lack of time on the trail. There’s way more work than I expected although I know I’m still learning how to manage it. Still, I’ve made getting out once a week for a long walk on the trail a priority.
The places that call us, that we chose to inhabit and where we spend time, tell us something about who we are at a very deep level even when we’re unaware of it. Some people feel a sense of belonging in the place where they are. Their family may have called the same place home for generations. Others have been drawn to different areas at various times of their life.
We’ve also heard stories about people who have gone to a city they’ve never been to before. As soon as they arrive they inherently know it and know it to be their home. On the other hand, I’ve known people who pin all their hopes of who they want to be into geography. They think that if they could live in a certain place everything will work out for them.
I have never felt that about a particular place I don’t feel drawn to anywhere special, other than I feel much more at home in a small town than a large urban center.
Regardless of why we find ourselves in a particular place, we take in more from places we inhabit than we imagine. Each place is relevant for the particular time we’re there and has something to teach us.
It’s important to build a relationship with the land and to create beauty wherever we are. Finding the wilderness may not be as hard as we think. It’s only recently that I realized that the “green” power I feel so vividly “out” in nature lies under cities too. It’s even more important to recognize it in places we don’t find beautiful, like industrial sites and wastelands. We’ve all seen pictures of derelict buildings with trees growing through them. It doesn’t take long for the earth to reclaim itself to know that energy is there.
The earth gives us life in spite of how we treat her. If we are to have a healthy relationship with her, it’s up to us to show appreciation. We can create beauty wherever we are. That could include smiling at a stranger, picking up trash, or planting flowers. Even photographing nature shows gratitude.
Finding the wilderness as I’ve traditionally defined it is a bonus, I’ve realized. How dare I overlook the earth that gives me life wherever I am? I step out of my door into a beautiful garden. Most important thing is for me to get out, be grateful for where I live, and learn what it’s got to teach me. It’s exactly where I’m meant to be at this time!