“To be alone is sometimes the most difficult challenge of all. It is in itself an art, for which we are ill equipped, both by training and by experience. To confront the unknown and meet its challenges is to be admitted into a permanently enlarged world ….so our encounters with the wilderness widen us and free us.” The Necessity of Empty Places by Paul Gruchow.
In myths, dreams and literature, “wilderness” often symbolizes the subconscious. The “dark wood” is a frightening place for it contains all that we do not know. While naturalists, backpackers, trekkers, campers, photographers and others celebrate wilderness, society seems less trusting of it, paving it over and “developing” it at the earliest opportunity. Often, those who say they love the out of doors will not go there without taking cell phones, loud radios, TV sets, and other trappings of city life.
The “wilderness of the subconscious” is not generally viewed as a warm and fuzzy place. Many avoid exploring this inner world by keeping themselves occupied with external stimuli: other people, MP3 players, radios, Internet chatrooms and message boards, blogs, movies. At all costs, they avoid being alone, for this might cause them to hear bird calls and voices and storms and the cries of wild things drifting out of their inner world’s dark wood.
It will indeed be a challenge keeping our wild places wild and unspoiled, yet accessible to seekers and green explorers, while our inner worlds are being paved over.