New things keep unfolding in my life by listening to my instincts and following where I’m guided. It all weaves a beautiful story and I am enjoying the creation of it more and more. It always leads me to new discoveries and hidden treasures when I allow myself to venture deeper into unfamiliar realms. The smallest things can offer the largest rewards.
One thing I’ve been finding very rewarding is a documentary series that of course connects dots with much of what is going on in my personal experience, and has been reflective and reiterating. We’ve been watching a six-episode series produced by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan called: The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. This is a beautiful series filmed over a 6-year period that shares not only the evolutionary history of the National Parks, but weaves a story about the amazingly devoted people, from all walks of life – artists, entrepreneurs, idealists, scientists, etc. – who made a difference in their preservation. The particular episode last night focused on John Muir, considered America’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist, and founder of the Sierra Club. Alongside his advocacy of wilderness preservation he was also a writer, lecturer, geologist, botanist, glaciologist, explorer, school teacher, inventor, fruit rancher, husband and father.
It’s always interesting to see how visionaries of the world are so multi-faceted, extraordinarily gifted, and of course, ahead of their time. It’s like they see a whole other reality others haven’t tapped into yet, because of their direct connection to Spirit, and help lead others through that doorway they have found. They courageously forge into the unknown realms, guided by an innate calling, in order to integrate a new experience for the collective. It’s really a beautiful thing to see and hear about and is why I support visionaries in their quests and help to nurture their empowerment – because I see the value of their journeys.
John Muir is one such visionary and what I enjoyed the most in this episode last night, was not the usual historical facts you can find and read about him online or in history books, but the intimate insights from other writers and historians who shared about his mystical and beautifully unique nature. He was not just all the labels the conventional world celebrates, but he was a mystic, a natural spiritualist, a keeper of the garden of Earth, an elemental communicator, what many would closely relate to as a shaman and medicine man, and lived the concept of “as above, so below.” John Muir was a poet of life and marveled at the beauty in every miracle of nature around him, coming to know and understand their story and how it reflected his inner landscape.
I loved the stories of how he would trek off 50 miles in 2 days without a thought and with only some crackers, oatmeal and tea along with him, sit for hours or a day talking with the new species of plants and animals he discovered, ran at a bear making noise and flailing his arms to see its reaction and having the bear run off, climbed behind Yosemite Falls without any gear but nail studded shoes he had fastened for his daily adventures just to experience what it was like to “be” the water running over the edge of the cliff and rocks, saw storms as songs, excited over what an earthquake came to teach him, climbed high mountains of snow and then intentfully rolled down in with an avalanche to experience it and to arrive quickly back down where he started….the list of captivating and powerfully poignant stories is long, but they expressed a simplistic beauty that is untouchable except to experience.
John Muir was a man of no limitations and had the continuous exuberance and innocence of a child, coupled with the wisdom of a sage. Known as “The Father of our National Parks,” “Wilderness Prophet,” and “Citizen of the Universe” he is a reminder of our connection to Earth, her divinity in the cosmic order, and how valuable it is to understand her reflection of us and us of her – to come to embrace a return to natural harmony and preserve what is sacred. Having come to learn more about his unique nature, he definitely is a soul after my own heart and someone I would have loved to have spent time with lost in the magic of the universal wilderness.
I love to hear about others who approach life as I have come to. I relate to much of how Muir lived including his feeling that words were limiting in conveying a sense of the mystical power and majesty of Nature. One such reason I believe I am an artist, so I can convey things in a way more aligned with how I feel and see them. And like the ineffectiveness of words led Muir to emphasize the value of “experience” as a path to truth, I wholeheartedly agree that in order to learn, one must actively participate rather than idly watch. He naturally was engaged in a Zen-like exploration of himself and knew the meaning of life lived as a spiritual embodiment and as a daily meditation that was just in the way he embraced life, rather than as a structured discipline. His discovery of Nature led him to discover greater awareness of himself and as result, discover the Universe.
This is the meaning of his famous quote, which I love:
“I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
Harmony in life is brought about by living in union with one’s true “Nature” and John Muir’s quest for this created a personal philosophy that astoundingly would be considered close to the teachings of Zen, even though he had not studied much about eastern philosophy. One does not have to study something to live it. John Muir’s realization was to simply follow his instincts, live in constant communion with Nature, and in so doing he found his true peace and joy. His message is a beautiful reminder to each of us.
Here is an article written by Greg Haegele that shares some interesting facts about John Muir: Ten Cool Things About John Muir
And I love these beautiful and reflective quotes and sharings from John Muir. I hope you enjoy:
Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.
The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.
The mountains are calling and I must go.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…
Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
The sun shines not on us but in us.
The power of imagination makes us infinite.
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.
Going to the mountains is going home.
I will follow my instincts, and be myself for good or ill.
In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world.
Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.
A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.
Most people are on the world, not in it– having no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them– undiffused separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.
Not blind opposition to progress,but opposition to blind progress…
One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.
Who wouldn’t be a mountaineer! Up here all the world’s prizes seem nothing.
Most people who travel look only at what they are directed to look at. Great is the power of the guidebook maker, however ignorant.
We all travel the Milky Way together, trees and men.
When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.
Anyhow we never know where we must go, nor what guides we are to get—people,storms, guardian angels, or sheep….
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings.
I was awakened by a tremendous earthquake, and though I hadn’t ever before enjoyed a storm of this sort, the strange thrilling motion could not be mistaken, and I ran out of my cabin, both glad and frightened, shouting, “A noble earthquake! A noble earthquake” feeling sure I was going to learn something.
If for a moment you are inclined to regard these taluses as mere draggled, chaotic dumps, climb to the top of one of them, and run down without any haggling, puttering hesitation, boldly jumping from boulder to boulder with even speed. You will then find your feet playing a tune, and quickly discover the music and poetry of these magnificent rock piles — a fine lesson; and all Nature’s wildness tells the same story — the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent uprush of sap in plants, storms of every sort — each and all are the orderly beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.