The wilderness, the mountains, the rivers, and streams, they are etched into a man’s soul. He cannot escape, only ignore them. A man needs the wilderness as much as he might need love. The wilderness and nature are the other things that balance out his heart. Men run around in a frenzy all their lives because they have suppressed the wild that beckons at every waking minute of his life. It beckons, but many men do not recognize the call and are frustrated because they cannot understand why they no longer feel like men, why they are not content with their careers, why they can’t find a single minute of peace or rest. To be beneath the trees atop some mountain and to look out on the land, is like no other feeling in the world other than the feeling one might get from a beautiful woman, or rediscovering some deep truth from long ago and long forgotten. Every man needs solace, not just merely being alone, but being at peace amidst the beauty of the world. Every man, whether he knows it or not, needs to sit beneath the stars, far from the light of any city, and observe the dust of the Milky Way. Some men don’t even know what I am talking about or that it is even possible to see the Milky Way from Earth for they have never ventured out, for fear, for lack of knowledge, or because of their busy schedule… the same schedule that sucks the life out of them, and steals their time before they’re dying and wondering what their life was all about.
Thoreau famously said in Walden, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear […] I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan like as to put to rout all that was not life […]”
While I do not share his universalist and humanist sentiments, I do resound with his burning passion and desire to live deliberately and seek truth so as to not waste what life I have. I also resonate with his love of being in the woods or by the river. One of my favorite poems is by Thoreau, and it is only four simple lines he wrote while sitting by a river. It is almost a love poem,
I was born upon thy bank, river
My blood flows in thy stream,
And thou meanderest forever,
At the bottom of my dream.
This poem hits me directly and deeply in my spirit for I know of this affection that he expresses. If every man truly looked for it, he would find a place… a place that is forever tied to his heart, whether it be a river, or mountain, or valley, or ocean. For me it is the Chattahoochee river, and its small tributary Vickery Creek. I have spent hours and hours in solitude beside these beautiful bodies of water. One is able to connect with God anywhere, but I connect most clearly with the Creator, when I am surrounded by His most beautiful creation. If it be a calm peaceful current, or a raging torrent, the river speaks to me. It speaks to me of something greater than myself, some mystery, it hints at the meaning of the universe. All is not random, all is not hopeless, all is not purposeless, but rather designed, composed, painted, drawn, and written on the divine canvas that is life by a perfect artist, who really truly loves His art. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, all of reality is but a shadow of a truer reality. All of creation is but a shadow of eternity. My river is one of those shadows. I urge all men who might read this to open their eyes to all the shadows, I urge them to take some time, maybe only a day or two a month, and find that place of solitude. I also urge you to open your eyes to the fact that nature is a work of art, and that it was composed by an Artist out of love for us and a love for beauty… Nature will not give us any absolute truth, but it will reveal to us that truth does in fact exist. Once you see it for what it truly is, it will enrich your life. I promise.