Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clear air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.
-- Wallace Stegner
Author and conservationist
When I was in high school and I needed to restore my sanity, I used to hop into my beat up old 1970 Ford Maverick and attempt to drive away from humanity. I picked a road that headed out of the city and drove until I ran out of road. I turned up my way cool $30 high-tech Sanyo radio and cruised the byways with the windows open and the tunes blaring loud. Even though a few times I got lost and occasionally I ended up in a different state, for a little while, I felt free. It was good to get away from the concrete and teeming masses of people, even for an afternoon.
Clearly, I was not destined to live in a city or even suburbia. These days where I live and work, I cannot see anything but trees. All I hear are birds chirping and the occasional chatter of squirrels scolding each other outside my window.
I like where I live because being here has brought me closer to the land, animals, and nature. But I also accept that not everyone could stand this lifestyle. I think it's okay to like cities and be into that too. It's just not for me.
James and I feel really fortunate that we were able to recognize and isolate what was missing in our life and change it. When we lived in the big city, we felt compelled to go to the mountains to get a "tree fix," in much the same way, I had to "get outta town" when I was in high school. We found a way to move to the trees, so we don't need to go get tree fixes anymore; they're here.
A lot of people experience dissatisfaction with their lives, but never really isolate what exactly is wrong. In a crowded, noisy world, it can be hard to take a moment, be quiet and just think. For me, the forest is the place to get lots of good thinking done. Now I'm fortunate enough to have the forest as my backyard. But I'm also grateful that 40 years ago, people had the foresight to pass the Wilderness Act, which preserves more than 105 million acres of land throughout the United States from development.
Computers may be part of our lives, but nature is part of our soul. I believe that open natural spaces are important for human sanity. If you want proof, the next time you can't figure out what's bothering you, go sit under a tree. Whether it's in Central Park or the Grand Canyon, take a moment, be quiet, and just think. You'll be glad you did. And you'll be thankful, as I am that someone was smart enough to preserve those open spaces for you to enjoy.