All I want to do is be wild. Live off the path and explore. Gather my own food – hunt it, if necessary. Know the differences betweens sequoias and hemlocks, cedars and firs. Know when the weather is changing. And I don’t want to live near a paved or gravel path, let alone road. Pavement over our mother is pavement over my lungs and it just won’t do to live without breathing.
I don’t give a darn about technology. Which is odd, you say — “Emily, that can’t be true. What about the device you are using to type your little declaration?”. Well, yeah. I find this laptop to be useful for certain things, like typing thoughts and academic papers, snatching information out of the air at a lightning rate. But I am happier away from my computer and phone (both of which are embarrassments to the cool, hip, shinier computers and phones). I can’t say I give a rat’s heiny about the carpal tunnel I have from both. Not a happy rat’s heiny, at least.
In her book Sandstone Seductions, which I am nearly finished with after a few days of reading in rare Oregon sun, Katie Lee writes
“To say that we are herd animals is to understate. We’ve lost the joyful art of observations and we misunderstand the healing power of solitude. We calculate too damn much. This lofty brain of ours is going to be our undoing if we don’t get back some of our instincts, our intuitive good sense, our wildness….Not just blunted instinct and lack of intuition make us unfit for the wild. We’ve coddled ourselves to the point that our skin is so thin it burns under a couple of hours o sunshine and bleeds with a scratch. We’ve pillowed our beds to feel like marshmallows, not like the boards we ought to sleep on, and armored ourselves against all sensitivity to outside elements. Good sense tells me the cave dwellers hereabouts [in Glen Canyon] didn’t need half the clothing we need to stay warm, and that they didn’t worry much about wearing cover-ups when they were hot. It also tells me there weren’t many potbellies lolling about, folded up in their fat, rolling from the cookpot to the grave” (222-223).
The last sentence seems harsh but is part of the reality; as a society we have desensitized ourself to our environment. What we should regard as basic skills have been forgotten.
Spending time on the Colorado Plateau taught me respect for my surroundings and made me realize how little I know. I want to sharpen my senses and regain the intuition we’ve buried beneath glazed eyes in front of screens and stifled with earbuds. I want to read canyons, deserts, rivers, forests, and mountains. I want to understand what they say when they speak. Most of all, I want to live. And I want to be free.