The Internal Struggle: To Fight for Wilderness or Enjoy It. Does It Really Have to Conflict?

Don’t Burn Yourself Out! DISCONNECT 2 RECONNECT #Wilderness #ClimateChange

with an excerpt by Edward Abbey

Video Transcript:

Swimming in a river, in a quiet wilderness, is one of my absolute joys of life. Such a simple thing it seems, yet rare. It’s rare to find a body of water not filled with loud boats or a shoreline not packed with beach goers. It’s rare enough to find a spot where you don’t see anyone else for a week. I feel connected to the landscape. Yet, I’m not naive. I know this land is not untouched by man. I can see the scars along the way to it, the mining holes, the road scars, the planes above, the plastic floating to shore. But today there really are no places untouched. Wilderness is hard to define and harder yet to protect. And my struggle to connect with the land is constant. In these places, in these moments, in some way I get to connect with nature the only way I see possible in this world today. And in these experiences I’ve realized the importance of this connection and I know, I just know, it’s something we all need. It’s something Ive always needed. Even when I was sitting downtown in an office thinking that was the only way, thinking I just needed another coffee to get through the day, thinking it was all worth it…only to find an emptiness still there at day’s end. We long for it often without knowing it’s what we’re longing for. We fill the longing with other things, only to feel incomplete again.

So do this, if you will. Do this before you die. Find a spot on a map that is as far from any infrastructure you see. Go to it. Drive off the pavement, on a dirt road, through layered canyons, we’ll beyond seeing anyone…until it ends. Then walk, toward a river, over the rocks and sand, through the strong smell of sagebrush. Throw away your anxieties along with your clothes, and walk right into the river. Sink beneath the water and feel the sense of renewal. Then just float there and look at the canyons and watch the deer across the river come to drink. Just float there. And remember…this is what it feels like to be alive. This is what real freedom is. And real happiness and authenticity. And love. This is the best version of human.

My wish for everyone? That everyone could experience this simple moment. I believe if we all did, we’d find our connections back to each other and everything below our feet and above our heads. And with that we’d be inspired and compelled to treat it all so much better than we now do. That’s the only real solution I can believe in.

I’ve struggled immensely with the inner desire to enjoy what I love but also take care of it. Taking care of it can be an exhaustive battle. Enjoying it is deeply fulfilling yet looks like laziness to others & then I feel guilty. “You’re just swimming in a river having a good time!? What does that do for the wilderness!?” I don’t know. I think I have to do this. I think we all have to do this.

In the search I’ve found a lot of comfort from one short paragraph written by the late Edward Abbey:

“Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast…a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet & lucid air, sit quietly for a while & contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over the desk-bound men & women with their hearts in a safe deposit box. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

In this I find much wisdom and insight to my personal struggle. If we don’t explore it, we won’t really get to know it. If we don’t deeply know it, how can we deeply love it? And without loving it we won’t be motivated enough to care for it (and we won’t have the energy or health to do anything).

So long as our way of life aligns with this belief, then we shouldn’t feel guilt for the time we take to enjoy it, while we still can. Otherwise, what are we fighting for?

Written By: Heather Ferrie

@ Paradise On Pennies

with an excerpt from Edward Abbey