I recently came across this article on one of my favorite blogs, Brain Pickings.org. While the article is not expressly about wilderness or spirit, I am sharing it because it captures the essence of being in wilderness for me. I go to the wilderness to be present. To be in wilderness, for me, is pure experience.
When I was told that my cancer was incurable and that I would die of it I wasn’t, at first, that rattled. I did not feel poorly and frankly the whole thing seemed like a bizarre joke. But after a few actual brushes with death I have become all too familiar with the reality of my situation. What does death mean to me? What is dying like? Thinking about this does not get me any closer to answers, unfortunately. Now that I am not thinking about it, except during particular moments such as this, I feel that I have been grasped by something richly profound that defies description, I find that trying to explain what I have learned is frustrating and self-defeating but please bear with me as I think there is something here worth sharing.
(For clarification, the not-thinking does not mean that I am living in a bubble. There are times when choices must be evaluated and decisions made but, once the exigencies of the moment have been dealt with, I find it is best to let it go and get on with living.)
For unknown reasons, I have always lived in my head in a world of ideas. Alan Watts has quite rightly pegged this as the primary way in which human beings “relinquish presence.” Perhaps my cancer is a way of the universe to force me out of my head and back into my body. We all try to make sense out of chaos – it is a human trait. But the more I have tried to make sense out of my cancer the more senseless it has seemed. For me, now, it just is, an irrefutable fact and the medium within which I live.
Wilderness is the place of being, not of sense-making. When I am in wilderness I am with all there is, interbeing, linked, breathing in and out together. That communion is why I find wilderness to be as needful as oxygen or water. As I am a creation of nature, wilderness is my natural ground of being. Wilderness restores me and teaches me; I don’t have to think right thoughts or bow to familial or societal pressure. Wilderness wants me to be fully myself and, therefore, provides respite and peace even if all my mind sees is chaos.
Click here for Brain Pickings article via An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence | Brain Pickings.