The wilderness, in its true form, no longer exists on planet earth. Our oceans are polluted and an array of species are extinct. Every mountain and river has been named, founded or colonised, and the composition of the atmosphere has been radically altered.
When I write of the wilderness, I am speaking of the spaces without high rises and fast food chains and paved roads. Spaces that don’t subscribe to the regimented framework our lives tend to – of 10-hour work days and dinner at 7 and hockey and soccer and book club on Monday and Wednesday and Thursday nights. Of spaces that don’t mind if the towels aren’t folded a certain way, or that the dishwasher is full of dirty dishes, or that the lounge piled with clean washing hasn’t been folded for days…
It is in the wilderness that flora and fauna are free to exist and live and grow wherever they please, uninterrupted, endless and wild, like humanity once was.
Poet Gary Snyder famously said ‘Nature is not a place to visit, it is home’. It is not until I was immersed in the expansive wilderness of the north-west coast of Tasmania that I felt the truth of this for the first time in a long while. I let out a sigh that seemed to have trapped itself between the final lines of my payslip marked ‘holiday leave’.
“It is in the wilderness that flora and fauna are free to exist and live and grow wherever they please, uninterrupted, endless and wild, like humanity once was.”
As I ran my fingers along the moss-covered trees, dived under the arc of a wave, laughed into the setting sun, ran along beaches and through forests and on the dirt tracks beside freshwater creeks, the sigh rolled out of me.
Ah, the ecstasy! Why have I allowed the concept of living to consume me, rather than living itself? Why have I allowed this sigh to pent up in a cage of ribs?
I drove the 60km Tarkine Drive loop with these questions on my heart and I left Tasmania determined to breathe freely.
This meant that after arriving in the busy city of Sydney, I had to craft a lifestyle that allowed me to softly inhale and exhale nature in my daily life, instead of waiting for a change to sigh. But how?
Every day we eat fruits and vegetables grown from the earth and drink water that has fallen from the sky. We rely on our trees for oxygen. Even as we sit on the 26th floor in an office building, we do so on a bed of soil. The first step for me was shifting the way I perceived nature. I’m not ‘here’ and the nature isn’t ‘out there’. The lives we live have more room than we realise to be injected with a bit of nature’s wilderness.
Rise an hour earlier and go for a walk. Rise half an hour earlier and eat breakfast in the backyard instead of at the fridge with your shoes slung over your shoulder, toast in mouth, bag under the arm. Don’t eat lunch at your office desk. Stop writing off your weekends with a hangover. Have a beautiful day alone.
“Every day we eat fruits and vegetables grown from the earth and drink water that has fallen from the sky. We rely on our trees for oxygen. Even as we sit on the 26th floor in an office building, we do so on a bed of soil.”
If you are desperate to feel that sense of coming home, pack the car, head over to Tasmania and go for a long drive. Let the relentlessness of the wilderness remind you of its healing abilities.
Then come home and keep breathing.
The wilderness is all around you.
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Go On, Take A Deep Breath