For years now we have been living in a city. It’s a good city with excellent public transport, parks, a good arts scene, amazing food from all over the world, a mediterranean climate. As cities go, it’s and excellent version. But we are all tired of the city. Worn down by the noise, the closeness of buildings and people. We are craving space and all of us fantasize about having more room in different ways. My husband wants a shed for his adventure gear and a workshop. My older daughter wants to grow her own food and have a horse. My youngest just wants a bigger room she can dance in and paint blood red.
I’m thinking of a room outside that. A room defined on one side by a mountain, on the other by the ocean with a vaulted ceiling of sky above. I’m dreaming of stepping outside into snow and inhaling the the sharp winter air like a peppermint in my lungs. I’m dreaming of wandering through the woods carpeted with soft moss and wild blue berries. I’m dreaming of sliding into the silken water of the lake and disappearing from the land for a few moments. All of these things are very beautiful, but I want more from them than their beauty.
The natural world has a way of talking sense into me. I enter this room wringing my hands and lamenting, maybe loudly. The ocean gives me a sideways glance and goes back to kneading water against the shore. I thump down on the damp sand. Fretting. Before long I notice a little crab I’ve never seen before navigating the canyons of my foot prints. I notice that the tide seems to be going out. I wonder what kind of fish might be in the water right in front of me.
Then I remember, “Oh yes, I was worried about something.” Not just worried, so anxious I couldn’t think clearly and had to go for a walk. “Yes, that is a problem.” I think, but my relationship to it has changed. The problem no longer has me by the jugular. I’ve stepped back and gained some dignity and composure. I think about it some more while watching the sunlight glint along the skin of the ocean. Now I can see the possible solutions. I can listen to reason.
There is something that wilderness can cure that other forms of self medication simply can’t. The usual escapes like drugs, sex, money, shopping… They just create more void. The wilderness creates a void, but then fills it. Fills it with – itself, the grander scheme of things. For me it puts things in perspective. For many it makes space for healing. Brings people back to themselves. A quieter, wiser version of themselves.