Instructions for Life

Every third week I write about my relationship to wilderness on this blog. It’s a complicated love affair. Sometimes, most times, I struggle to express that relationship. I find that nature always tells it best – a late October aspen whispering the last of its secrets, a cacophony of coyotes yipping and howling on a frozen autumn morning, or a young great horned owl perched on my roof in the dead of night. He is screeching to be fed a mouse. His mother is ignoring him. I think anyone who writes about wilderness is inspired by the world around them but I am also inspired by the many authors I’ve read who have shared their thoughts on wilderness through books, poetry, and elsewhere. These are a few quotes that made me smile when I read them.

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” — Margaret Atwood

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the Earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” — Rachel Carson

“The joy in catching butterflies is the joy of capturing – for an instant – utter beauty. The satisfaction of being able to let it go is immense.” — Ruth Rudner

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” — Jane Austen

“If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go.” — Terry Tempest Williams

“The Badlands are the kind of terrain that, left alone, I would seek out for myself: wide open, perhaps treacherous, the stuff of good Romantic poetry.” — Hilary Vidalakis

“Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization. I wonder if we have enough reverence for life to concede to wilderness the right to live on?” — Margaret Murie

“Trees are living beings. And they have their own personalities … There are the young, eager saplings, all striving with each other … If you put your cheek against one of those, you almost sense the sap rising…” — Jane Goodall

“Wilderness fosters gratefulness in me: thankfulness for the ability to go into these mountains, thankfulness for friends who are also willing, and most especially, thankfulness for the existence of the mountains themselves.” — Julianne Baker

“Instructions for Life:
Pay attention
Be astonished
Tell about it” —Mary Oliver


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