Nothing exists in isolation, especially not wilderness.
How do we find our way back to a world interrelated and inter-connected, whose priority is to thrive and evolve? What kind of
belief systems are emerging now that reinforce and contribute to
a world increasingly disconnected to nature? And what about the
belief — my belief — in all that is wild?
I return to the wilderness to remember what I have forgotten,
that the world is wholesome and beautiful, that the harmony and
integrity of ecosystems at peace is a mirror to what we have lost.
My brother and I became lost to each other. Isolation was the trigger. Isolation is always the trigger behind a gun, a drink, or a war.
Wilderness is not a place of isolation but contemplation.
Have you heard the thrumming of the Earth? It is here.
This morning, while we were drinking tea, a short-eared owl
banked its underdown and quill so close to us her beauty and
power startled. Was this an omen or an oracle?
Was my brother safe?
Wilderness is a knife that cuts through pretense and exposes fear.
The call of the wild is not what you hear, but what you follow.
I want to follow the owl and dare to touch that which threatens
to kill us —
“Wait, I see something — ” say the Koyukon.
Wilderness is the surprise of tenderness. What we think is
destroyed can be restored.
Perhaps this is the definition of pristine: a sustained integrity;
a vow of health and renewal; an ecological body of knowledge
My brother, this wilderness, and I are approaching a pristine
place of understanding.
In wilderness, I see my authentic reflection in the eyes of Other:
an owl, a caribou, a bear.
My brother is Other, and so am I.
Can we love ourselves enough to change?
This was the question my brother and I asked ourselves on a
morning walk in the Tetons before we broke apart.
This is the question I am asking myself again.
I have not seen my brother since I passed through the Gates
I await his return. He awaits mine.
The scales of equilibrium can be found in wilderness.
A feather can tip the balance.
It is time to forgive —
my brother, myself, this wilderness.
I want another chance.
Change is beauty.
The Great Mountain I have been watching, courting, studying
as my mentor, is shivering. Rocks are falling. A small slide is apparent. Snow is accumulating on the pyramid peak, threatening
to erase it, and there is a quality emanating from this massive
presence that I recognize as a reverence. Nine caribou are traversing the white-tipped tundra. They stop and stand resolute in
the deepening storm. When the winds arrive, and they will, this
quieting will become a blizzard capable of taking our lives.
I am facing the mountain, this glorious indi=erence.
I am watching as someone is watching me.
Wilderness is the source of what we can imagine
and what we cannot — the tap root of consciousness.
It will survive us. A
Hear a conversation with Terry Tempest Williams about wilderness
and writing at www.orionmagazine.org/multimedia.
In sweet heat, sweat beads
Down back’s dry valley,
Sheens breast. Hand winds
Paths from lobe to heel,
From want to hill, chest to
Chest, will to heal, nest to
Nest. The very air breaks
Into rain. Flashes. Shakes.
Laughs at locks. Coaxes phlox.