|Being Outdoors for Solace and Healing|
|Saturday, 28 July 2012 00:00 | Written by Amy Kaplan | Blog Entry|
A friend, reflecting on the healing power of the outdoors, wrote me and said, “I think there may be something about going to those beautiful natural places that helps set people right. At least it seems that way to me.”
When I extracted myself from my suburban house last June, after years of struggling to leave, I took off for the mountains and the desert. I didn’t have much of a plan except to travel north and then east and then south to my first home, New Mexico, where I planned to stay for awhile. I just needed to leave and to go get swallowed up by the outdoors. I did. I was searching for salvation.
I wasn’t consciously trying to “set myself right,” but this is what began to happen as, slowly over the course of the weeks, I drove and camped and hiked. I say ‘began,’ because after years and years of living against my will in a location where I did not want to live, I had a lot of setting right to do.
I am so thankful that John Muir, Aldo Leopold and all their buddies set aside places—or at least planted the seed that places should be set aside—where one can go and merge with the natural world. There is peace for me knowing that these places of great beauty and danger and challenge are just there. In these places, I started my healing.
Where do you go when you have to get away? I go outside or I dream of going outside. For large parts of my life, I went to my garden. These days, I have no home and I have no garden and, since it is winter, I dream about where I will be going and how long I may be staying once the weather gets warm enough for me to live in my tent. The world is my garden now.
When the obligations of family oppress, and they often do, I go in my imagination to vistas and, when I can, for real. Lately, I have been dreaming of two places: California’s Redwood Empire and the Northern District of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park. Different vistas, the same result: setting myself right. We should never underestimate the need we have for wildness and for the solace and health that wildness, even with its danger, offers us. Thank you John and Aldo and so many others.
What are your experiences with finding solace and healing outdoors?
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