THE VALUE OF THE WILDERNESS INSIDE
I went to the woods to live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts of life,
and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die,
discover that I have not lived at all
We cannot today recreate the original wilderness man.
But we can recover him, because he exists in us.
He is the foundation in spirit or psyche on which we build,
and we are not complete until we recover him.
-Laurens van der Post
We travel into nature to experience something untamed and unspoilt by humankind. Perhaps we travel because we want to be reminded of what is untamed and unspoiled inside ourselves. We need these experiences to regain perspective – thus any authentic outdoor adventure and journey is also an inner adventure and journey.
Different landscapes fulfil different psychological and narrative needs:
• You may feel the need to spend some solitary time in a desert. Deserts symbolise mental space –uncluttered spaces in which there are very few or no objects and weather conditions to disturb reflection or meditation.
• You may feel the need to work your way through a tropical jungle or lush forest, because in your personal or professional life you are struggling to work through a concept or issue.
• You may feel that your job is holding you down – as if an impenetrable ceiling is holding you down. A mountaineering trip in which you climb step by step to the summit (especially while carrying your own load) will neutralise that depressed feeling. Reaching the summit in a cable car will not afford you a sense of achievement or satisfaction, but it does reward you with a view from the summit and a fresh perspective on life.
If you undertake such a trip and complete it successfully, you may have the courage to tackle your issue(s) with renewed vigour. You live a symbol. You conquer your issue(s) subconsciously: You are living an authentic story.
In indigenous societies, when the tribe or an individual experiences a problem, the shaman or traditional healer goes into the wilderness alone. By fasting and reflecting on the problem for a few days, they receive visions of how to deal with it. They implement these solutions upon their return, and turn the problem or issue into a story for the tribe to live or act out.
By embarking on such a vision quest you will be able to reaffirm (or rediscover) your identity. You effectively close an obsolete phase and wholeheartedly begin a new phase.
Is not the core of nature in the heart of man?
The inner – What is it?
If not intensified sky,
Hurled through with birds
And deep with the winds of homecoming
© 2016 CJP Jooste. All text and images in the web site are copyrighted. Unauthorized use is prohibited. Contact the author if you are interested in using some of the text or images.