I remember sitting in my Prelude, March 2001, listening to the radio, hearing the commercials, the news, the banter, the constant noise, and wondering how people did it. After two years of living in the high desert of Idaho, leading wilderness trips with at-risk youth, my culture shock was huge. The city was too much. So many people. So many things to consider. So many worries.
Insurance. Roommates. Bills. Neighbors.
In the desert, life was simple. We hiked, cooked our food, dug our latrines, made our shelters, and did our best to teach a few lessons to the kids in our groups. Sometimes, there was the random chase when one of them tried to run. But all in all, life was simple. Definitely not easy, but simpler than what I was facing in my new life.
It's been many years since my life in basalt canyons, and while I'm pretty good at planning plenty of camping trips with my little family, I'm beginning to feel the wear.
On those trips, with those kids in wilderness therapy, we walked. We hiked, and hiked some more, and then found dead and down sage to build our fires and cook our food. For three weeks, it was just us and the sage, wandering the willow brooks for water, teaching the basics of responsibility.
This past weekend, racing along the shores of Detroit Lake on a friend's ski boat, I found myself yearning for what I felt in the desert, the same connection to nature I found on backpack and canoe trips in Wisconsin. I scanned the treeline, the rocky shores, hoping and searching for those feelings.
But they weren't there.
Edward Abbey nailed it when he said that "wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread." This is exactly the lack that I feel. I get out, yes. But it's just for a weekend. In a campground. Or on a speed boat. Or in a cabin. With a bunch of people.
“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle," Abbey says, "will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.” Yes, Abbey, that is true. The boat was beautiful, the friends were fun, the lake was luxurious.
But the motor drowned out the life.
And the speed kept me disconnected.
Abbey says that "to be everywhere at once is to be nowhere forever."
Perhaps that's the feeling: nowhereness.
Whatever it is, it's clearly time to reconnect. To fill my soul with what the earth has the capacity to do, and has done (and NEEDS to continue to do) for millions of years.