Mother is beautiful, yet she can be dreadful in an instant. She can calm you. She can nourish you. She can kill you. Like the magnificent lion, she is powerful, untamed, and reverent beyond words, but she can never be trusted. Her wisdom is infinite. Her soul is pure. She will allow us to bathe in her grandeur. She will permit us walk with her, but only if accompanied by knowledge and respect. The wonders of Mother Earth surround us all, yet few actually immerse themselves in them.
Most people reside in congested communities. They have warm houses, comfortable beds, automobiles, cell phones, and computers. Their lives are in constant overdrive, rushing to work, the grocery store, or off to the video store where Junior can pick from an array of simulated activities to engage in while half-dead on your intensive care couch with Doritos for life support. Funny thing is, most of their computer screen savers are of mountain vistas or a pictorial review of other National Geographic looking places that they stare at from their coffee-stained swivel chairs. They obviously find these places compelling. Why don’t they go there? I believe fear is the basis for their apprehension. Most people’s vision of the wilderness is that it is a hostile, angry, environment. They’re convinced they’ll invariably get lost and most certainly be eaten by some hideous creature waiting in the depths of darkness, after all, not having video games or opposing thumbs, hideous creatures really have nothing else to do. People fear what they aren’t familiar with. I am very content in the wilderness. For me it’s a recognizable and calming atmosphere. I’m scared to death of the big city. I’m certain that after some hideous creature devours my entrails, he’ll steal my wallet and use my last twenty dollars to buy crack. I could never enjoy the city unless I conquer the necessary survival skills. Through many years of wilderness excursions, I’ve acquired skills to not only survive, but to be quite comfortable. Once you attain these skills, your world becomes vastly expanded.
Getting in touch with Earth Mother will cleanse your core. Watching the sun descend on a mountain valley, awakening next to a gurgling brook nestled under a canopy of hardwoods, or the sweet echo of a Meadowlark signaling the dawn on the grasslands will focus your entire inner spirit on the splendor that eludes us every day.
Take a hike. Abandon the Dell and MP3 player, leave the phone at home, and take a stroll with a friend. Find a preserve or a well marked trail in a wooded area and just relax for an afternoon. Bring a daypack with some water, maybe a rain coat and a snack item. It won’t take long to realize that this is some well needed mental rehab. Once the hook is set, it’s time to acquire some knowledge and skill. Spend some time in the woods with a seasoned hiker or survivalist, if you know one. Beware of the common redneck. Although fearless, dubious decisions quite often result in alligator maulings or severed limbs. I had the pleasure of spending many years in the Rocky Mountains with an Arapahoe Indian that became my best friend. I was truly fortunate to have him as a teacher. Read about hiking, survival, and camping. Practice things you read about. Backpacker magazine is a great source of information for the casual hiker to the savviest survivalist. Tom Brown has a couple books that I highly recommend; Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival and Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Living with the Earth.
Begin taking short camping trips. Focus on the necessities and evaluate their importance. I won’t delve into specific items or techniques, as that’s a presentation on its own. I cannot overstate, however, the magnitude of being fully prepared for any circumstance that may arise. This is accomplished by knowledge and planning. Educate yourself! Once you’ve mastered the basics, take longer and more remote excursions. Practice using your compass. Practice building various shelters and spend a night in them. Practice fire building techniques. With mastery comes confidence. Sports aren’t fun if you’re no good at them, but if you are, you can’t wait till the next game. It’s exactly the same with outdoor adventures.
Lots of people I’ve spoken to declare that they are going camping. They go on to describe the campsite assigned to them, which is usually sandwiched between other well- intentioned, and perhaps misguided adventurers. They rave about the grill that is exclusively theirs to manage for the entire weekend along with the convenient proximity to the restrooms and showers. Sounds to me it would be more advantageous to pitch a tent in Wal-Mart’s parking lot. Maybe you could hike on in and get a camping video game. I prefer to go where there is no one to be found for miles. The whole world becomes your own. If you know what you’re doing, it is a very comfortable and relaxing experience. The most stunning places I have ever witnessed are not accessible by road or trail. I have stood on ground that I am certain no one except perhaps a nomadic Native American or mountain man generations prior has ever set foot on. Your job, your car, your finances, the little porker on your sofa, or any other perceived problems vanish from your mind and are replaced with a well- deserved soul polishing. For me, that’s what it’s all about. Mother is calling you, go walk with her.