The Lure of the Trail

Modern man, a busy little hustler, doesn't know how to live.

It astonishes me that there are able-bodied people who cannot appreciate the joy of movement in nature. I don't expect people to share my pleasure in solo wilderness adventures. Most people are incorrigibly social: it's as if they feel their ontological status diminished when on their own. With me it is the other way around. But I can easily understand how many would feel differently about this.

I once proposed to a woman that she and her husband accompany me and my wife on a little hike. She reacted as if I had proposed that she have all her teeth extracted without benefit of anaesthetic. She   seemed shocked that anyone would suggest such a thing. Finally she said, "Well, maybe, if there's a destination."

A destination? Each footfall, each handhold, each bracing breath of cold mountain air is the destination. Did John Muir have a destination when he roamed the Range of Light? Was Henry Thoreau trying to get somewhere during his cross country rambles?

Modern man, a busy little hustler, doesn't know how to live. Surrounded by beauty, he is yet oblivious to it, rushing to his destination. If one does not have the time to meditate on the moon set, celebrate the sunrise, or marvel at a stately Saguaro standing sentinel on a distant ridge line, it is a serious question whether one is alive in any human sense at all.

You may end up at your destination all right -- in a box, never having lived.