Once upon a time, in fairy tales, the woods were filled with monsters. Peril hid in every shadow. Wolves, trolls, witches, and dragons stalked the wilderness. The wild represented evil.
But if that was ever true, it isn’t now. At least for me.
Sure there’s danger in the wilderness. There are wolves, bears, mountain lions, rugged terrain. Ancient trees give up the ghost and crash down. Lightning strikes. And there’s often no Internet. It can be terrifying!
Each animal sound at first, especially at night, may frighten. Coyotes howling are downright creepy. Barks, mews, chirps, growls are all language, telling us the wild is full of natural dangers. The wilds will still harm you, even kill you. But it will not steal your soul.
And though you cannot control the wild, you can understand it.
The Danger of Civilization
Not so much in the civilized world. Here–it seems to me–is where the real monsters lurk. Busyness, self-importance, greed, injustice, prejudice, power. These things steal our souls. They are rooted not in the wild but in the human heart. And civilization has not tamed them. And thus is the danger.
Because we can turn lights on with a clap as dangerous dark falls, we think we are in control. Only to be disappointed that we cannot clap our fears away.
In the forest you know control is a myth. You face the wild eyes wide open.
The farther we’ve moved from unruly, untamed nature the more unnatural have become our lives. Dirt is a thing to be sanitized and scrubbed off rather than to be germinated in and shaped by. Food is processed not shepherded. People too. Life is manufactured and managed more than lived.
We are organic beings trying to live mechanized, robot lives. And it leaves us empty.
Wild Places Anchor Us
This is why I hunt and hike and fish and camp. But hunting especially reminds me who I am and Who made me and who I can be. It places me back in the natural order where I belong. In God’s hand. And it’s quiet. Sun up to sun down only the sound of woodpeckers hammering, trees falling, a whispered voice, a cow elk mew, a squirrel barking break the hush.
More and more research is telling us green spaces, silence, nature, walking, laying in the grass is healthy. Maybe you don’t hunt or fish. That’s okay. Find a park, a green space. Plant a garden. Get dirty. Hang out under a tree. Walk on a dirt path. More about the benefits of walking here.
And if you want to know what life is really about ask a hunter or farmer. Someone close to the dirt. Turn off those electronic talking heads, those digital pundits. They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about!