The recipe for renewal is simple. For instance, last weekend renewal was comprised of one river, two canoes, three nights, four humans (one canine), five poems, six or seven mosquitoes, and a generous dash of inspiration.
Don’t get me wrong, wilderness experience is not easy. Indeed often even the approach to wild places consists of hefty obstacles that cross a whole spectrum of categories (more on those another time). But profound encounters with natural places, elements, and habitants are at their profoundest when they take the simplest possible forms. Floating on a river. Propelled by a paddle. Breath. Laughter. Picnics. Some scratches in a journal. An eagle’s perch. A loon’s call.
In my formative teenage years I remember reading one of the popular spiritual texts of my tradition that touted the emotional freedom that corresponds with an intentional practice of simplicity. It resonated then, and has become a cornerstone of my relationship with wilderness engagement as a part of my ongoing process of personal and professional formation.
The idea of simplicity is one of those axiomatic principles shared across wisdom traditions. It is practiced in as many styles as their are lives that live them. I wonder: What is the place of grounded-being for you that demands at the same time both courage and release?
I experience it as wilderness and, from time to time, I find it necessary to embrace the limits inherent to an encounter with wilderness (or a walk in the woods, or an evening unplugged) in order to remain present and emotionally strong in my relationships and in my work.
The jury’s out on the necessity of the mosquitoes.