541-552-9119 • 1757 Ashland St., Ashland, OR • Open Daily 10-6, Closed Sun-Mon library@rvml.org

Behold a flower and sense it, every pore receiving undeniable signals, and breathe some kind of fresher air far removed from the noise of the city and the light of development – see the folding of the universe into a little pedal. Sit high upon an ancient earthen formation, accepting a gentle rain, and be swayed by unaltered beauty as pine-covered hillsides are swayed by wind – feel the lungs of nature resuscitating the often-untouched depths beyond mind and body. Discover what there is behind what is daily seen, mystery melting into the range of perception, by intently wandering away from what the steps and sidewalks of society leave for us to experience – release the self to the gravity of the unknown. Remember limitless human potentials by escaping the lines of civilization for a time and enduring into the wilderness – remember what belonging to everything feels like by briefly forgetting the city and your self.

The first step is to move. Move and break free from the weight of routine and comfort that is necessitated by participation in society. Coupling curiosity with movement will lead the adventurous to the source of what calls out to them. It is a light of deep green that rises like the sun, opening the eyes of sleep within the city. It is a seed that unfolds into a flower of exploration and sublime discovery. Required for arrival at awe inspiring locations, it is dutiful work that rewards like the ache of opening closed eyes to a brilliant all-illuminating light. The hint of this glow is found at the end of the trail. It is the stubborn tugging of sleep and the inevitable rise of energy from a horizon now reached that makes audible the calling of each world. On one hand the fear of losing the way, being swallowed whole by the unknown, and the daunting demands of habit saying “no”. Temptations of hidden beauty, unmarked lands, and the enticingly whispered “yes” from deep within the next valley, lofty perks on the other.

The next step, leaning beyond the trail, is rudely padded with discomfort and doubt, making soft earth hard. Each step following, however, is one closer to the destinations reached within by going out there. We must separate from what keeps us quiet, unwilling to move, and wander away to really come upon ourselves. Thoughts racing on above pensively moving feet, some sensation charges behind the sternum which eventually demands that all attention be focused on exploring this hidden world. High above the ruling of planners and appointments, the mind turns off. Every breath is filled with the dynamic air of life as the focus of perception switches from the mind to the body, carefully trudging along a river or swiftly scaling a steep rocky hill. We reside so frequently in the confines of thought that the powers of our other capabilities are diminished. To physically think, running your body along the surface of the Earth like focus runs along the surface of memory and idea, is an awesome experience that amplifies every future footstep. That next valley has now been found and one like it calls from over the next ridge with an equally infinite range of possibilities.

It is the proposition of every next valley, the next unknown, that unravels the cynic and the pessimist that has grown in the city and, constantly fighting to emerge, lets out the romantic urge to sense all things and be a part of something whole. There is no judgement in the wilderness, no separation or categorization that diminishes this powerful sum into parts. There is simply essence and understanding. At first this can be perceived in accompaniment with fear and unknowing, the complementary emotions that appear along the edge of discovery. One will come to find, however, the total comfort that reaches out to guide with primal and indigenous hands. The movement becomes a selfless journey that unifies personality and intent, thought and action, past, present, and future. The timeless quality of the natural experience becomes as palpable as the previously unheard voice of the wilderness, singing softly like a mother, as one moves and lives within it.

The voice may become very loud. The next experience is one of inspired respect. Every breath becomes a conscious reciprocation with the cycles of the natural world. It becomes impossible to forget the impact of human life on this Earth. Coming across a land marker, a clear cut, or a dam and contemplating its effect and purpose results in a feeling of utter respect for the power of nature. The Earth allows these things, takes them in stride, even fosters them, but it is not contained or controlled by them. The lake of water, the eroding landscape, the whole of ancient wood that holds a rusted nail, all these things can overcome the influence of humanity when balance is required. Every hint of perception leads to the warm feeling of completeness and connectedness, a feeling as stark in contrast to the modern world as the womb-like winding of the hill is to the right angles of the skyscraper. One cannot enter this place without being shown its power. If it is trusted, it will guide and protect and allow necessity to foster amazement.

There comes a time when it is necessary to return to human establishment after peaks of wild and personal proportions have been reached. Permanence in the wilderness is no longer an emphasis for humans, nor is it needed to achieve a state of well-being. It becomes clear, after all, that the rarity of poignant excursions from our constructions makes us appreciate what we have so much more. That we can shelter ourselves is the blessing of every tree that frames our living, and the giving release of warmth that burns our fires. That we eat regularly and have no worry of running out of food or water becomes unfathomable when, after hours and hours of exploration, no other animal is seen or heard. But these realizations should not be accompanied with castigation of the way we live, only the desire to live in awe and respect as much as one can throughout the insecurities and hypocrisies of daily living. Thanks does not go well with scorn, and we cannot be free to explore mystery if we live in misery because of the things we have. That we have opportunities to live the way we do should be heralded first of all, wholly before the notion of living right or wrong.

No matter how much concrete surrounds us, and no matter how removed we may feel from the processes of the wilderness, we are constantly in the arms of nature and we are guided by her will. Though these arms are vast and unfamiliar, they are nothing to be feared. We are held with love by the deepest desire of life to let itself live. There will always be unknowns and always inexplicable feelings and occurrences. To venture into the wilderness is every form of meditation and cleansing, it is the first step in profoundly feeling the power and mystery inherent in the world we live. The effects of moving beyond our own divisions and hiking into the woods will ultimately instill the tangle of pavement and high-rises that our society calls home with the same beauty that can be seen and felt from atop a mountain or from within a dense grove of trees. The process of life is amplified by getting out into nature, by embracing any mystery. We are undeniably in touch with forces beyond our five senses. Begin to understand them by getting up and going out.

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