Call of the Wild*

I’ve been doing a lot of stumbling lately.

I really like that word.  Its main definition is about walking in an unsteady manner, being clumsy, to almost fall, or to make an error.  Blunder.  But I like the other definition, that of unexpectantly coming upon something – like truth.

Now that’s no error.  That’s magic.

Maybe it’s because it’s Spring, or maybe it’s because the tonal of the times has shifted focus, or maybe even some element of the collective unconscious is at play, but people seem to be talking about and getting back to Nature.  Because of its healing dynamism.

We stumbled upon a superpower.  One that has always surrounded us.

I think this is something many of us have known for quite some time.  We feel better, healthier, and happier when we’re outside.  In the real world.  Always have.  Even as children.  Maybe, especially as children.

And the great irony is just how much time and technology has been focused on “sheltering” ourselves from this world.  I mean it does make sense.  Some forces of nature are so overwhelmingly powerful they can erase one from the planet.  We need a haven from extinction.  But modern society strives, not just for harborage, but instead, for exclusion from the natural world, while at the same time professing it has conquered it.

A huge myth.

We play hide-and-seek.  We hide from those elemental forces, but venture out to experience them once and a while.  On our way to work, perhaps.  Or on a weekend picnic.

Few of us choose to live directly in those elements, like all of the other species on the planet.  Like our species used to.

But it seems more of us are trekking out.  Getting back to Nature.  Taking time to live.  And more of us are writing about it.**  In just the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen articles about appreciating the shortness of life.  About living to the fullest.  About working less. About recapturing our adventuring spirit.  About filling every minute with exuberant experience.


About how what people really want is not higher wages, but more leisure time.  To breathe deeply.  About why spending our hard-earned dollars on experiences, in Nature, or in motion traveling, is much more valuable than spending those dollars on things.

Material possessions bring little in terms of actual fulfillment.

Then I stumbled on the Japanese term “shinrin-yoku,” that translates into “forest bathing” and describes the practice of getting back to the woods “for body and mind renewal.”  And now hard science is demonstrating how these journeys, these “baths,” ease depression; reduce stress; decrease heart rate and blood pressure; boost the immune system; stimulate the release of hormones that guard against heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis; lower the incidence of migraine headaches; increase attention span; and boost vitality.

These same results cannot be replicated when comparing time spent in Nature and time spend in built structures.

We can’t alter our evolutionary history.  At least not quickly.  We came from a time of living in Nature and that is where we thrive.

If you’d like to check out some other articles on this topic, I suggest you start with my blogging friend’s page Secret Garden Creative where I first came upon the term “Forest Bathing.

And I’ll list some other sources at the bottom of this post.  One of those articles focused on the Roman philosopher Seneca’s 2,000-year-old treatise titled “On the Shortness of Life.”  And here’s a 2000-year-old quote I stumbled upon in that article that still rings true today:

Everyone hustles his life along, and is troubled by a longing for the future and weariness of the present. But the man who … organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day… Nothing can be taken from this life, and you can only add to it as if giving to a man who is already full and satisfied food which he does not want but can hold. So you must not think a man has lived long because he has white hair and wrinkles: he has not lived long, just existed long. For suppose you should think that a man had had a long voyage who had been caught in a raging storm as he left harbor, and carried hither and thither and driven round and round in a circle by the rage of opposing winds? He did not have a long voyage, just a long tossing about.***

Leave the storm.  Take a hike in the natural world.  The healing world.  The place where souls reside.


*Yes, I borrowed the title from Jack London’s 1903 book for my post.  It seemed to fit 🙂

**I wrote about this topic myself in the post Busy Living.

***My apologies for all of the male pronouns in Seneca’s quote.  Authors of old frequently wrote as though the word “man” encompassed all of “human kind,” which you see also has the word “man” in it.  Which is a bit exclusive of at least half of the population.   Sorry about that ladies.  Even the word “woman” has “man” in it.  I remember a history professor of mine once pondering this issue and he came up with the word “wopeople.”

Photo:  A bit of northern Montana.  It’s healing just looking at the picture.

Some other articles of interest:

The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long

 The Benefit Workers Want Most is Less Work

Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things

Link Rot: I cannot guarantee how long any link on the Net will be functional, or actually take you to the page planned.  They do go defunct or get hijacked occasionally.

20 thoughts on “Call of the Wild*”

      1. Yes! I make it a point to be outdoors whenever I am not working. Also I recently took a break from my blog. It’s important to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature as you said. Have a great week Harold.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you! You have a great week to. And I’m glad you were able to disconnect for a while. I think you must be in a very difficult profession. Like all of the healing arts, you have to bear witness in order to help. Take good care

        Liked by 2 people

  1. For five weeks I have been walking back and forth the hospital where my husband is a patient. The hospital is located in the downtown area of the city and encircled by office buildings. There is little in the way of trees and I am feeling the strain.

    I love to walk in the “wild” parts, the nature trails and river banks of home.. I feel so rested and rejuvenated when I do. I miss that. This hospital does feature a “healing garden”, but it is often full of people, so does not benefit me much, although the water fountains and many green plants are lovely. I crave peace and quiet and solitude – preferable spent near a water source and near forests or wooded areas. I long for that.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sorry to add a negative note to your wonderful post, but here in Texas the state parks are becoming so popular that people are being turned away for day visits and camping reservations are backed up for months or even longer in some parks. I only hope that the new interest in nature will correlate with more parks being opened and the old ones improved and enlarged. We especially need more green spaces in small towns and small cities.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree. I am on a waiting list for a chance to lodge in Yosemite – next summer. But there are also many beautiful areas less visited but you do have to be willing to go more remote. I too hope more resources will be channeled into our state and national parks and green spaces everywhere

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you. This is a beautiful post. I always enjoy your writing. The cadence is similar to nature’s pace.

    I also notice many of us are being called to write about nature connection and nature wisdom. There is a growing movement. What a time! Who would have thought we would have to be so deliberate about seeking time outside? Disconnecting with technology?

    About to go for a walk. It’s rainy here in Calgary this morning, but I am grateful for the rain because it is so dry. I am also grateful for your work and what you share through your writing and photos. Thank you for being on this pilgrimage (of sorts) alongside me. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

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