In Wilderness is the Preservation of the World

24 07 2011


“In wilderness is the preservation of the world”     

Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes, you just have to get away from it all. Even for just a few hours.

So that’s what I did today. There was an oppressive frustration slowly boiling in me for no apparent reason (perhaps I was exasperated with the lack of progress in my college research), waiting to erupt. It was mentally taxing, psychologically noxious. An insidious anger directed at everything, and nothing.

I just had to get out and do something. Move. The longer I stayed in the house, the more it felt as if the walls were pressing in on me. So I threw my book, pen, notebook and water bottle into a bag and headed out…to wilderness.

What I was desperately craving for was quiet, solitude, peace and seclusion. To get away from the din of the city. So I headed off to the seaside and sat down on some rocks, facing out into the vast open sea. There I sat, writing in my notebook. Sipping water. Reading The God of Small Things. Listening to the waves as they gently crashed onto the rocks, leaving a foamy trail behind them.

It felt good. Everything suddenly felt so much better.

A quick dose of wilderness...

I’ve just experience Thoreau’s quote for myself. This is what Thoreau meant when he said “in wilderness is the preservation of the world” – preservation of humanity. Wilderness reminds us of where we come from. It reminds us of our place in the world, and how small our problems are when compared to the vast, powerful expanse of wilderness.

To further quote Thoreau:

“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and titanic features, the seacoast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thundercloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.”

At the same time though, Wendell Berry reminds us:

“In human culture is the preservation of wilderness.”

Wilderness. The world. Human culture. Wilderness.

It’s all a loop, isn’t it?

Reading and writing next to 'wilderness' - the preserver of the world and humanity.




2 responses

3 08 2011

Couldn’t agree more.

3 08 2011

This brings back memories of our therapeutic dose of wilderness after our ‘disastrous’ science exam…remember our amazing suicide plans?

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