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From The Mountains of California I

I started reading John Muir’s The Mountains of California a few weeks ago. I must say that getting into this book has been difficult.

I entered into the book expecting to hear sage words of wisdom from possibly THE individual solely responsible for the creation of the modern National Park Service. The John Muir. The man that many naturists worship. Imagine my disappointment when I started to read and just couldn’t gain any traction to continue to turn the page. Perhaps it was the initial writing or the timing with my busy work schedule, however I’m pushing through and things are starting to look up.

I had mentioned previously I wanted to share passages from books I’m reading as well as provide background into why they struck me and why I selected them. I’m going to attempt this with these four passages; however, to be totally honest a few of these I wrote down several days ago and I can vaguely remember what drew me to them. Hopefully, as I get into the swing of this new idea the content will improve.

I happened at the time to be wintering in Yosemite Valley, that sublime Sierra temple where every day one may see the grandest sights.

It is amazing how re-reading a passage such as this will cause a fog on the mind to immediately dissipate.

After my recent trip to “The Mighty 5” of Utah, I’ve been asked, and have asked myself, when I would be taking Lexi to Yosemite. When I stop to think about the answer to this question, I’m immediately filled with dread. This dread stems from the fact that I know that Yosemite is one of the most popular, according to a National Geographic article it is #3, national parks. If/when I go I fear the amount of people that I will be forced to deal with. Even venturing to #7 on list a fore mentioned list, Zion, can give me great pause.

The fact is that when I go to these places I go to enjoy the best that nature has to offer. To share that offering with Lexi while teaching her the value of it. This is so hard for me, personally, to accomplish when I’m surrounded by, what I feel at times can be, the very worst that nature has to offer, human beings. However, reading John Muir’s description of Yosemite adds fuel to a fire that burns with a desire to see Yosemite for myself.

In so wild and so beautiful a region was spent my first day, every sight and sound inspiring, leading one far out of himself, yet feeding and building up his individuality.

I wish this passage was as mind clearing as the previous one. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the case. I believe my draw was how Muir ties the idea of “leading one far out of himself” with the “building up his individuality.” This idea isn’t something new to me.

For quite a while I’ve been following a small outfit named the “Wilderness Collective“. Wilderness Collective describes itself as, from the about section of their web-site, “…a collective of men…that work together to inspire men to rediscover the balance and personal growth that adventure brings to life.” The company puts together some of the most amazing while down to earth adventures I’ve seen such as off-road motorcycle trips from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon or Sequoia to Yosemite. After each trip the company creates a video highlighting the trip. These can be viewed on their Vimeo page which is here.

I mention Wilderness Collective, and introduce them here, to show where I’ve learned of this idea of an individual building up their individuality by being push outside of them self, or, in my opinion, outside their comfort zone. This philosophy is something that I find is repeated over and over throughout all of Wilderness Collective’s videos and adventures. It is also something that I, on occasion, find myself yearning for. These occasions can occur during the course of a regular work day or when I’m hundreds of miles from home sleeping under the stars. Just a desire to be pushed into a direction to put me onto a path of self discovery, because even now, at times, I feel I don’t know my true self.

Standing here in the deep, brooding silence all the wilderness seems motionless, as if the work of creation were done. But in the midst of this outer steadfastness we know there is incessant motion and change.

One of my favorite things to do when out in the wild is to just stop and listen. Listen to and enjoy the relative quiet of my surroundings. During our hikes I will turn to Lexi and ask her to be quiet and listen. After a few moments I’ll ask if she hears “it”. She’ll look confused and reply, “What?”. To which I reply, “Exactly.” Over the years she has grown used to my crazy question, but it is something I still enjoy. My enjoyment of the silence and pointing it out to her is what drew me to this passage.

How true Muir is in this passage. No matter how deep you are into the woods and how silent it may become, there is still motion and change all around you. Just because you can’t hear it or see it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It continues to exist only outside your realm of perception. Almost provides a final answer to the question, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it does it still make a sound?”

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