|I will not say that wilderness is a tonic, balm, or medicine for the troubled soul; that most everyone has a troubled soul in need of moss’s healing touch and birdsong’s rejuvenating cheeriness; that this common soul-ache is just a little human-sized sliver of despair situated within the broader soul of the natural world; that I have walked for weeks among meadows and outcrops and waterfalls, blisters on my toes, a grin spreading from ear to ear and beyond.|
|I will not say that trees speak; that their leafy words have offered me solace in moments of pain and their branchy words pointed me in the right direction when I was lost; that at the Grand Canyon, telling a friend how much I appreciated pinyon pines, the realization hit me that a nearby pinyon pine was listening; that I once curled myself beneath an ancient bristlecone, closed my eyes, opened them again, and was granted by the tree a waking dream in which I saw something akin to the face of the divine, a face that looked like bark.|
|I will not say that lying on your back at dusk beside a tarn where frogs chorus to the rising moon is a definite “must”; that if you choose to recline in such a locale, the moon will carry your thoughts into the sky until those thoughts are no longer yours; that the frogs, unperturbed, will go on chorusing their froggy chorus; that eventually the moon will set, carrying the former you with it into darkness.|
|I will not say that time is a polished pebble easily lifted, considered, and dropped into the stream by the edge of the trail to sit for all eternity under clear flowing water; that this stream is itself a pebble some older being previously lifted, considered, and dropped; that pebbles and streams, when taken together, are, as the saying goes, like “turtles all the way down”; that if one’s not careful preparing dinner at the campsite, a pebble can find its way into the soup whose broth is water from the stream.|
|I will not say that the Stanislaus National Forest, on the Sierra Nevada’s western slope, is in fact owned only by itself and beholden only to itself; that the more we try to claim places rather than hum with places, whether the Everglades or an anonymous patch of dirt and weeds in Kansas, the more we lose a thing gladly and freely given; that the loss of a thing gladly and freely given forebodes a parallel loss in the collective body of humanity; that the more we lose gladness and freeness the more we reach and grasp and claim and, well, suck.|
|I will not say that Peter Matthiessen was right when he wrote, “The longing that starts one on the path is a kind of homesickness”; that eleventh-century Chinese landscape painter Kuo Hsi was correct when he said, “The din of the dusty world and the locked-in-ness of human habitations are what human nature habitually abhors”; that desert rambler Ellen Meloy nailed the nail squarely on its head when she forged her voice into a hammer and professed, “There are people who have no engaged conversation with the land whatsoever, no sense of its beauty or extremes”; that the aforementioned succeeded in coming anywhere close to the eloquence that is rain on palms, a coyote’s eyes looking up from the kill, the calcium in a snail’s shell, dry wind across stiff brown grass, et cetera.|
|Wrapping up, I will not say that I trust human phrases, inky scratches, the tongue’s ribbony cursive scribbles, or anything remotely of their ilk to accurately express the many truths that I know with certainty in my mute heart, in my inarticulate bones, to be utterly, awesomely, incontrovertibly, truthfully true.|
- Read “The Glorious Indifference of Wilderness,” by Terry Tempest Williams.