I wanted to share a talk I gave embodying the archetype of the Adventurer. I had great fun writing this document using information I had gotten from the Ken Burns National Park videos – America’s Greatest Idea. I love the videos almost as much as I love the National Parks. It is my hope that we preserve and continue to restore – as in the case of the Everglades – these great open spaces as they are for future generations. Let us not be the generation that turns our back on the these areas or exploit them for some momentary illusory gain. I hope you enjoy my musings and realize I too love these spaces almost as much as John Muir. He is one of my heros.
Hello, my name is John Muir. I have found the clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. Let me tell you about how I experience nature. I love the out of doors. I do not understand how those city folk get along in a life without the experience of being in nature. In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.
I had heard about this valley with high granite walls like no man-made cathedral and the grandest waterfalls you ever laid eyes upon. I have travelled to that valley many times and found that is no lie. I go there frequently between bouts of being drawn into city life with all its encumbrances. They call this valley Yosemite.
It is not unusual for me to take off for weeks or even months with my tiny sack of supplies because you see, I have no thought for safety for I have an enormous trust that things will turn out just fine. I like to go on adventures and explore. It is in nature that I find my solace and rejuvenation and it is where my soul is fed like nowhere else.
I remember when I first laid my own eyes upon those majestic granite cliffs with their cascading waterfalls. I stood in pure awe, without words, for the feelings that coursed through my heart and soul could not be contained by words. Such beauty cannot be described, only felt. I walked right up to the base of that tallest falls in the valley. The roar of the water incessantly pounding the rock made my ears ring. I then hiked all day to the top of that fall and got as close as possible to the water worn smooth granite edge just to get a taste of the experience of what the water must feel like as it leapt from the edge. I’d follow those drops down, down as far as I could with my eyes and senses. Ohhh the freedom.
I then found a way to scurry out on the wet slippery rock to go into that space behind the waterfall. Nothing behind me but slick, wet rock with a mossy fur and nothing in front of me but a wall of water rushing north to south. The damp smell somehow pleasing as a cool mist covered me head to foot. This was especially nice since it was a hot bright sunny day. From this place, behind the waterfall, all else is silenced. Only the rushing air pushed by falling water and its crash onto the rocks below can be heard. And, in this sound, is found the song of the waterfall. They say God is heard in music, and I hear music in the song of the waterfall and so I believe God must be in that waterfall.
I recall another day I heard nature’s song. I felt a storm brewing so I went out and climbed the tallest tree I could find and sat in it so I could experience the sway of the trunk and the slapping of the branches upon my face as the fury of the air element blew by. It’s swoosh through the canyons and across the tops of the trees filled my ears like the wildest of symphonies. God must be here too, for the song of the storm was gloriously loud and beautiful in its might.
The best song of all though can be heard after a day’s long journey up to the top of a split granite dome. You can see the edge of the Universe from up there and down below, the Yosemite Valley is stretched before you like a fine living canvas, except no painting can capture the real song of this view. The breeze in your hair, the small of fresh air, the sweat on your brow and the sturdiness of the rock gives way to the spacious song of all of nature in one place. I then had the realization that no one will ever experience this magnificent view exactly like I had just seen it. It is another moment, among many, between me and God, and there are no words, only feelings of delight, awe and gratitude.
I become nature as I explore it. I listen to what it tells me for it has wisdom far beyond my own. What would man be without nature? Without its pristine state preserved for future generations? It is my wish that all have a nature experience for there is no other experience, in my mind, that would compare in its greatness. To me, being in nature is my church, it is where I commune with my maker. So go, climb the mountains and get their good tidings.