Sunday, October 5, 2014

Natural Impact

My mother in-law bought me a subscription to The Sun magazine years ago ,and now renews it every year for my birthday. I think it is a magazine that most people would cringe at reading. It is all nonfiction and some poetry, but the stories are long and the print small. Most people like bite sized magazines with articles you can finish over a piece of pizza. Well, with this magazine I've grown to love reading it and usually do so from cover-to-cover. I've got my wife hooked on it now too, and we often ask each other "Do you have this month's Sun?"

Every month they interview a different expert or scientific celebrity and often times those are the best part of the magazine. This month they interviewed  Jack Turner, who has a fascinating resume including Mountain Guide, Author, and a degree Philosophy. His interview was so engaging I actually highlighted some of his quotes. His perspective on the outdoors mirrors my own so much that I wanted to share some of them.

As my wife will attest, I'm happiest when I'm outdoors, alone or with others. For me, being in a natural, preferably forested environment, re-centers me. I tried to capture this idea in Dirty Shirt a bit, but probably didn't do it justice enough. I think if everyone was forced to spend a day a month in seclusion with just shelter and their thoughts, the world might be a kinder place. Idealistic maybe, but it probably wouldn't hurt.

The first quote that caught my attention reads:

"If you've never had a genuine wilderness experience, even some small version of it, then why would you be drawn to it? That's why it's so important for those of us who love wild places and wile animals - and what happens to our minds when we're in their presence - to do our best to get people out there and help bring them into the experience. There are many paths." 

--Jack Turner in The Sun magazine Aug. 2014

This is why it is so fulfilling to take someone new fishing or hiking or canoeing for the first time. They begin to understand that there's a food chain, an ecosystem, a pecking order. They understand the importance of shelter, food, warmth and even love. You begin to recognize that you're a much smaller lord in the big wide universe than you were indoors in your urban environment.

The next quote read:

"I can't tell you how important family car-camping was for many of the people I know who are lovers of and advocates for the natural world. Those experiences mean a great deal to kids. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. All you need is a little intention. You can get kids out. You can get the elderly out. There are wheelchair-accessible fishing holes on the Yellowstone River."  

--Jack Turner in The Sun magazine Aug. 2014

My brother Tom, as Commissioner for the DNR uses a tag line that goes, "Take a kid fishing." This is kind of what the above quote alludes to. If we don't take our kids out into nature, how can we possibly expect them to want to be in it? Donna and I have always taken pride in exposing our kids to natural beauty and now they expect that vacations will always involve a hike, boat or swim somewhere along the way.


The last one read:

"Real wild places allow you to sit quietly with few distractions, away from advertising, entertainment and the rest of the modern mind-flood. I recommend going to a wild place for a week or two without bringing your music or your iPad or even a book or a journal. I call this 'radical hermitry'.

--Jack Turner in The Sun magazine Aug. 2014

I allude to this a bit in Dirty Shirt, as well. How in the deep quiet of the woods, without having any music players or electronics of any sort, your mind begins to slow down. Both adults and kids these days cannot seem to tear themselves free from the electronic glow for more than an hour. There is something freeing about being in a place totally cut off from all of it. These places are getting fewer and farther between, If you can't do it in nature, I would challenge you to try it at home. If you ask me, people need to experience the stillness given by a lack of information and electronic stimulation to better understand themselves and their place in the universe. I need to get better at this as well.

And maybe I'll start by...

Blogging off...

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