For the Wild

Wildness is the part of nature that is simultaneously outside of our collective skins and DSCN2941 at the very core of us.  I like to speak for wildness because, in my opinion, it’s not only an essential condition for healthy life on earth, it’s something that all too many of us try to hide or destroy. I try to live a life-style that embraces wildness and acknowledges that humans are merely one strand in the great web of being on this planet– an endless job while sparring with the iron gloves of civilization.

I could speak for wildness in the Adirondacks or the Catskill Mountains, for example. I could speak for wildness in our gardens, rivers, and dreams, or in that realm beyond the strictly human. What I’ve always found interesting is the idea that modern humankind, having managed to disrupt and eliminate so much of outward wilderness, has never quite managed to subdue or dominate the wildness that’s been carried in the psyche through the ages of evolution.

DSCN2924Modern humans are about 40-thousand years old, give or take a few millennium. For most of this time period, we have been hunter-gatherers, and for the last 10-thousand years or so, the focus of our species has been agriculture with a growing penchant for technology. We get swept up in the changes, and have a constant need for assessment of our actions.

When I’m looking for inspiration from the wild, I could go, perhaps, to the backwoods of Alaska or Brazil; I could find it in a textbook or on a computer screen or television; I could find it on a hike in Yellowstone or from a peek at the ruptured concrete of a sidewalk. For my dollar bill, however, there is no better teacher than direct experience out-of-doors.

Humans may labor exhaustively to buffer the wild with layers of technology, but the DSCN2929Paleolithic hunter-gatherer-fisherman with his spear-sharp senses will remain inside even the dullest of our species. We can blow ourselves into kingdom come, like chaff on the wind, but the seeds of wildness will remain, ready to renew the long journey into climax.

This may be a comforting thought, but it shouldn’t mean that we resign ourselves to a life of inactivity, politically speaking. Wilderness, or aspects of wild nature, can inspire us to create new works of art or knowledge that, in turn, can better our human condition and prolong a healthy environment.

DSCN2933My writings often reflect personal experience in the wild. I like to speak for the wildness to be found in fly-fishing, walking, and hiking, or in a myriad of other outdoor pursuits. Immersion in the big outdoors is healthy, of course, and we go there because the natural world inspires us to enter the fold from which we came.

I like to find poetry in the world and put it into words. I like to think that you, too, will continue to find more of the beauty in all things wild and to express your findings in a favored medium.

We have personal frameworks in the world of nature. If we’re able to step outside them for a brief spell, we get views aligning us with the history of our race and the hope of future days. The lands and waters speak directly and to the point. They speak the poetry of life.DSCN2937DSCN2940

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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12 Responses to For the Wild

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well said!

  2. You are indeed an eloquent voice for the wildness within us. Working for a technology company, my hope (dream?) is that our high-tech tools will give us more freedom to spend time in wilderness and more incentive to protect it.

  3. Kind words, Jim, thanks. I think a major theme behind the advancement of technology has been the provision of individual freedom, but to do what, remains the question. So many young kids are abandoning outdoor activities in favor of tech toys, but that’s partly the fault of the older generation in not encouraging the youngsters to get out there and experience raw nature.

  4. Les Kish says:

    Here, here. Hopefully the concept of “wildness” will not be relegated to the recesses of the mind. Wild places have become less so due to ease of access (physically, electronically, socially). We can fly nearly anywhere, download satellite locations. We can google anything and instantly be taken to the wilderness. Heck, we can read each others blogs and take trips vicariously. Sadly, the concept of wilderness that is missing today… is that of wonder. We pretty much know “what’s over the next hill, around the next bend.”

    I floated a North Slope river a couple of years ago. It was about as far as one could get from the “lower 48.” What boggles the mind is that I could be on a gravel bar, within sight of the Arctic Ocean, and, within twenty-four hours be home in Montana. Remote? Yes. Truly wild? Well, we all have to decide.

    I could “ramble on”, but this, after all, is Walt’s blog. Thanks for awakening the wilderness spirit.

  5. Good points there, Les. By the way, you and all readers are always more than welcome to “ramble on” on RR; it’s what makes the blogging effort worthwhile in my opinion.
    Yes, we all have to decide where wildness fits in, or where we fit into “wildness.” As I stated in my definition, the wild is not only deep within the recesses of the human soul, it’s more significantly all of that natural realm “beyond our collective skins.” It’s a helluva lot bigger than human nature, so it can’t be relegated to the recesses of our minds, although I think that recognition of the wild first comes by somehow “breaking on through to the other side,” as the Doors might sing of it.
    As you noted from your North Slope river experience, the wilderness is so readily accessible today that we’re losing it here on planet Earth. We need to protect and regather it, if possible, and that comes only from education and direct experience out-of-Doors (from “breaking on through,” if you will).
    Thanks for allowing some build up on this issue!

  6. Alan says:

    I find wildness and solitude in the woods and streams I fish. All one has to do is seek.
    Your thoughts are inspiring.

  7. Thanks Alan. The wild trout streams and environs are readily available for that kind of sustenance we enjoy and need. It’s important that we all help protect them.

  8. Kelly Temple says:

    Well said. I think of the outdoors as the antidote for urban insanity–if I don’t schedule some time to go outside and soak in the wilderness every few weeks I feel like I’m slowly suffocating.

  9. Kelly, I agree, and know the feeling well. Without wilderness we’d be another cog in the madness of so-called civilization. Beyond that, wilderness is essential for the health of the planet and the multitude of its plants and animals. It allows us to believe in mystery and wonder. It allows the evolution of a natural state of life. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

  10. Ken G says:

    After living within the Chicago city limits for my first 35 years, now I can’t get far enough away. Problem is I’m still tied to it to make a living. Luckily, I can now walk two blocks to the river, down some railroad tracks and disappear into a small ravine. Wildness is where you find it.

  11. That’s it, Ken. First, there’s recognition of the need to find it. After that, it’s easy.

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