This weekend I went on an unforgettable road trip to the Highlands of Scotland! Here are some of my thoughts...
Thomas Foster* does a brilliant job of describing our inherent cynical notion towards nature, “we of European descent fell out of a crowded and degraded space into something empty and fresh. Nothing but nature in every direction. And we were horrified.” He suggests that from the moment we stepped on western soil we were wary of the wilderness, whether we thought it inhabited Satan or ‘savages’. In many ways we have never recovered from this view, our success is always measured in how many forests we axe, or how urbanized a town is. Our misunderstanding that tearing things down equates to progress conveys a flaw inherent in society. My weekend trip to the Highlands revealed much about the nature of the untouched or what we call the wilderness. I was often reminded of Henry Thoreau's*, Walden, which prompts us “to step out of the pencil factory and observe the woods” (pg 51), so we can consider our relationship with nature.
This weekend allowed me to step into Thoreau's skin and view the world through his lens. One of my favorite lines from Walden, “a young forest growing up under your windows, and wild sumache and blackberry vines breaking through into your cellar” delineates the divide between wild and tame, and how often nature will cross the line. Yet this weekend I witnessed Thoreau's line in reverse. No matter how deep we were (in the Scottish outdoors), proof of human existence was absolute. Littered cigarettes or a bustling car on unpaved roads, no place untouched. Our spirit, Thoreau suggests, is a forest, disposed to the wilderness and most at home in its native environment. We have dissociated ourselves with essential nature, and grown too comfortable in our domestic constructs.
* denotes brief introductions of these wonderful scholars down below!
*Thomas Foster - Author of 25 Books that Shaped America
Foster does a phenomenal job of unpacking critically acclaimed literature such as Walden by Henry David Thoreau. I was reminded of some of my favorite lines from his book during my trip.
*Henry David Thoreau - Author of Walden
Thoreau's work may be viewed as the backbone of transcendentalism. He set the scene through his steadfast belief in 'unplugging' and embracing the natural world.