It’s difficult to describe the emotional connection I have to the mountains and forests. It’s as if when I’m back in my city neighborhood the world loses so much meaning and understanding replacing it with societies smothering asphalt.
I know how to fish and where they will be and what I have to do to catch one. I know how the flames of fire spark up into kindling in a certain way so I have to construct the fire carefully. I know where each step is placed and the way animals leave their memory as prints and tracks and burrows and dens. These things I no longer think about. I no longer have to question my actions because I do and think things instinctually, immediately, and with confidence. There are no convoluted aspects to learn unless the outdoors is something you have never experienced because it is all about instinct, feeling, and emotion. A love for the wilderness is a relationship with place, with the earth, and something so fundamental to the human spirit that we cannot describe to what we are attracted to.
At first, I was taught to live with mother nature, and now the skills I have most developed have no place in this modern world.
Aldo Leopold said that, “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
This concept readily applies itself to any mode of outdoor recreation. Many people do not understand the learning curve in a hobby like fishing where all they have to do is “cast a line and sit on the shore” when the place they sat and the way they weighted their line and where they casted all matter to their success. As an outdoorsman, like how an ecologically minded person may see a world of wounds, I see a world of ignorance “in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
Fishing is not easy. And though I am capable of doing it, that knowledge holds no place in the world. It doesn’t matter outside of the rivers and lakes of the outdoors.
Thus, in nature is where I feel most comfortable. Suddenly, the way I’ve lived my life is being used. My knowledge is not in movies or video games or electronics, but I can start a fire with flint and steel and catch a rainbow trout for dinner.
This awareness of my passion is nothing new, I have always been this way. Going through school and life knowing the outdoor love I have curated is useless in modern times.
Yet somehow, I hold onto the glimmer of hope that my connection with the natural world will become useful. Someday I’ll be able to connect a passion with a job or existence where I’m able to continue this relationship.
Until that day comes, I write. I sometimes get to see the mountains around me. And hope that maybe through my struggle, others will find the nature in their lives as well.