It’s August – summer in transition. A quotient of light erodes from either side of every day, portending the inevitable fall.
Cooling temperatures, changing smells. I feel a tinge of autumnal sadness in the still warm August days, a feeling amplified by absorbing hours of news from “out there.”
Planes and bombs fall from the sky as the world wars. Children searching safety are collateralized, damaged and turned away.
Where do you find respite when the human in humanity appears hell-bent on destruction?
I go outside.
Leave it to a 14-year-old Anne Frank to explain my motivation.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.”
The weaker my faith in humankind, the stronger the call of the wild. The more my head questions, the more my bare feet and fingers seek contact with damp earth and cold, hard rock.
For all people, earth is a resource. It is our source, sustenance and, increasingly, our place of all-important recreation.
For others, earth transcends its resourcefulness. It is resource and home, resource and sanctuary.
For those overwhelmed with events of the day – or simply dreading the loss of daylight to a slowly advancing winter solstice – my prescription is a dose of the wild.
Turn down the radio and turn off the news. Venture out your door, leaving the car behind. Walk. Hike. Bike. Float. Fish and hunt. Move slowly, paying attention as a naturalist might. Move fast to feel the limits of your body against the limitless challenge of mountains, rivers, and vertical rock.
Get dirty and bloodied. Exult in your own sweat. Ground yourself in this physical place we are fortunate to call home.
It’s possible to recharge – to find some semblance of peace or god or center – and you should.
When recharged, return and re-enter the fray. That’s important, too.
When you do, I hope you’ll work at least a little to protect those places you return to when searching for center. Unfortunately, those places, too, are often wasted in our mindless movement forward.
Poked, prodded, cut, drilled and mined for resources – the dumping ground for all the pollution needed to power a supposedly enlightened age – wild lands in the west continue to slip away.
In the future, where will the seekers find solace? Where, on Earth, will we be left at peace with the heavens, nature and God?
Greed knows no limits. Greed holds nothing sacred. The temples left standing once progress runs its course will be the ones hardest fought for.
Join us in that fight.
email@example.com. Dan Olson is executive director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance.