Friday, 6 September 2013

A wilderness state of mind

Many of us go out seeking for some experience of wilderness, though what makes up wilderness varies from person to person, you may dispute this, but it all depends where you start. My dictionary states that the word is derived from the middle English word wilderne or wild place and what seems wild to one may seem tame to another if your life experience takes in only large cities you will not have to get too far outside of one to consider yourself in a wild place. On the other hand some of us who have little use for life in large cities consider ourselves in a wild place when entering one, as wilderness is  also defined as a large, confused mass or tangle of persons or things, there may be some validity to that point of view. Like many what I define as wilderness is those wild places where we like to roam, those places where you seldom see others apart from those who you have chosen to travel with, places which are not always easily or readily accessible.   

I was recently reading a story where an experienced wilderness traveller had taken a couple of kids paddling. The adventure took place between a couple of large cities and was not what many would call a wilderness experience at all but a simple day paddle , there was no remote river involved, no camping, and dinner was in a restaurant on the way home. He was chuckling to himself as the kids told the waitress about their wilderness adventure, as many of us would. As I was thinking about this I could only see good here, these kids had enjoyed a new experience in the outdoors that had left them thrilled enough to share it with others.  They had an experience that that they would take with them as they moved forward in their lives,  hopefully it will lead to them seeking  more opportunities to see and experience wilderness and maybe even a little of what many would see as true wilderness. There may come a day at some point in the future when they laugh at this their first experience of wilderness, but I hope none of us laugh out loud when we hear these stories as the hope for preserving the wild places will one day be theirs and others who may get started making those wilderness treks in their backyards. For many of us it would likely be a great experience to when the opportunity arises  take some kids out to experience the wilderness in their backyard, and maybe have the chance ourselves to get a fresh perspective on our/their wilderness.

One last note as I wrote this I also looked at the meaning of wild which was defined as living or growing in its original, natural state; not domesticated or cultivated, taking this to its literal extreme is there any real wilderness left? Is there any place that has not been affected by man whether he has travelled there previously or not, while you think about that and I hope you will, what it really proves is that no matter how far you go to experience wilderness it is in reality a state of mind.