Perceiving Wilderness

We here a lot of talk these days of the ‘wilderness’ and what exactly it is. We perceive it in many different ways, but truly, it is a word that is quoted by Roderick Nash to be “… a noun that acts like an adjective.” Many think of it to be the physical woods, the overgrown forest in our backyard, or maybe an unfamiliar place miles and miles away.

But really, I believe we think of the woods itself to be a wilderness because it is  unfamiliar to us as a society. To the Native Americans the woods was no wilderness to them, but rather the cities that began to build up and prosper, infringing their land. We see the woods or overgrown forestry, to be a wilderness because we fear it. For many, it is something we aren’t comfortable with as we did not grow up in it.

Why would we be uncomfortable with it? Wilderness broken now from its Latin origin of ‘wilde–wild’ and the ‘ness’ being the ‘state of being’. We can perceive then that ‘wilderness’ to be uncontrolled and in the state of being uncontrollable, something unfamiliar.

The photo on the left represents the wild of nature, exemplifying the contrast of the wilderness in technology form and the wild of the physical nature itself being uncontrolled. The motorcycle is viewed as a ‘controlled power’ and brings out the wild nature in us all in the thrill of the risk. However, it being a form of wilderness doesn’t scare these particular people as they are familair and comfortable with it, and don’t perceive it to be ‘wild.’ However, if they got lost in the woods, they may feel it to be the wilderness. Someone who grew up on the country side, deep in the woods that sees a motorcyle go by, may see it as a wild being, as they aren’t familiar with it–it isn’t in their comfort zone.

But Nash says we all have a ‘wild’ in us, we are all animals, and as we are born from the wild and nature, we so will return, as this motorcycle built from the elements of the nature, is brought back. We are all in a technology world and generation that we find familiar and within our comfort zone. Stepping out into another world, such as the  rough physical nature of the Earth may be scary and unfamiliar, but we can still go back. We all are animals–only with honed talents we have learned to control, just as we have learned to control the technology we have created, and therefore made ourselves more comfortable as we are used to it and have gotten used to the  control of being used to it.

So are are uncomfortable with the wilderness of nature? Or are we scared to realize  what we all still have inside of us?

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One thought on “Perceiving Wilderness

  1. Sarah says:

    I like the picture. I think it represents your point perfectly!

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