Thinking of John Muir

I didn’t have a plan for this morning. Usually I go to bed with an idea of whether the dogs and I will go for a run the next morning, and where. We run three or four days each week, and go for a walk the other mornings. Walks require much less planning. Rarely, if the weather is foul, we might skip a morning outing altogether, but if we do we usually make up for it with an afternoon walk.

My stomach was in knots yesterday and most of last night. This happens when I’m feeling stressed. I knew that my stress was related to an appointment I had scheduled this afternoon. I had been asked to help a divorcing couple mediate their issues. I actually enjoy this sort of work, but it’s not free of stress. Negotiating the details of a split is always emotional and stressful for the couple. It’s impossible for me to not absorb some of that.

But this particular mediation had an extra layer of stress: how to conduct the session practicing social distancing and wearing masks? So much of how I work as a mediator is based on my ability to read the parties’ body language, their facial expressions in particular. Are they feeling hurt? Is that anger boiling under the surface? I need to catch these emotions quickly and prevent them from sidetracking the discussion. But with all of us wearing masks, would I be as effective?

Plus I couldn’t help but ask myself: is earning this money worth risking getting sick with COVID-19? As a runner and athlete, I’m especially cognizant of the long-term, even permanent damage the virus could do to my lungs should I come down with a serious case. Yet our small, rural community has been mostly spared, so maybe I’m overthinking this?

No wonder my stomach was upset.

Western meadowlarks love to usher in the dawn, singing loudly before the other songbirds who wait until sunrise. Dawn here in Idaho’s mountains is roughly 4:30 am right now, with daylight arriving around 6:30 am. The meadowlarks woke me at 4:30 and I was unable to fall back to sleep. I was expecting rain this morning, based on the forecast, and hadn’t planned a run. At daylight I was surprised to find it dry, although overcast.

The boys were eager for some time in the forest. (But then, they’re always eager.) I realized the best antidote for my anxious stomach was for all of us to go for a run, to go be in the forest, in the mountains and burn some energy.

So we did.

John Muir

While running along single track dirt trails sometimes still covered in old snow in the north-facing areas, I found myself thinking about John Muir, the famous Scottish-American naturalist. I’d recently read a celebration of his birthday; he was born April 21, 1838 and died December 24, 1914.

I think John would understand my love of these Idaho mountains, my need to spend time in them most days, my naturalist bent.

Photo: John Muir, 1907.

So in honor of the 182nd anniversary of John’s birth, here are some of his quotes mixed with photos taken during this morning’s run in the mountains. I think my dogs knew I needed to loosen up and laugh a bit. Finn rolled happily on every patch of snow we found. (What do you get when you mix excited dogs and snow? Snorgasms!) The dogs were very entertaining, their antics successful – I laughed out loud, knowing no other human would hear me. In fact, that was perhaps the best part; I find clarity and strength in solitude. When it was time to do the mediation, I was relaxed.

Most people are on the world, not in it.

John Muir
dogs on snow
trillium

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

John Muir

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.

John Muir
two dogs on snow

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.

John Muir

Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in endless song out of one beautiful form into another.

John Muir
dog rolling on snow

Going to the mountains is going home.

John Muir

None of Nature’s landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild.

John Muir
dog running, snow, trees
dog running on snow

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

John Muir

Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.

John Muir
huckleberry shrub

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

John Muir

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

John Muir
trillium

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

John Muir

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains.

John Muir

And finally, this one, which I’ve found to be utterly, completely and profoundly true:

In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.

John Muir

18 thoughts on “Thinking of John Muir”

  1. I love this especially the quote that people are ON the world not IN it. ❤ Bear is appreciative of the photos of old snow and I like best the one where Finn is rubbing his head in that magical substance. I hope the meeting went OK.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes; I love that quote! Too many are simply “along for the ride” rather than paying close attention to the beautiful earth they’re riding. Focus, people! Sadly, the fact Muir said it 100 yrs ago means we’re not learning the lessons we should.

      Consider the snow photos snow-dog-porn for Bear, courtesy of her Idaho bud (spuds?) Conall and Finn 😉

      The mediation went as well as can be expected. The next session, I hope, will find the divorcing couple reaching a mutually-agreeable resolution.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Nature always relaxes me too. I am glad you are able to spend time daily in the mountains especially with such a stressful job. I love John Muir. Thanks for sharing all the great quotes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Snorgasms! Ha! Love it. In preparation for our full time RV life I have been pretty much living in the rig in my driveway. Every morning I wake to the sounds of bird song and it’s awesome! Can’t wait to get this new home into the mountains where I will hear all kinds of nature.

    I love John Muir quotes. One of the first things I hung up in the RV was a sign with his mountains are calling quote on it.

    Good luck on the mediation. Hope the stress level eases some as you trek through your mountains.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your new lifestyle in the RV is going to provide you so much fodder for blog posts – can’t wait!

      And access to amazing places. Oh, the things you’ll see (sort of quoting Dr. Seuss), the things you’ll hear! Stock that RV with books on birds, wildlife, wildflowers, etc., so you’ll be able to identify what you see/hear. Also, there are some amazing apps now to help identify all those things.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re right about the new dynamic of personal exchanges. It makes me realize how much value I put into someone’s facial expressions.

    As for the quotes and captures, a lovely dovetailing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You bring up something that is maddeningly ignored by the press–the thousands and thousands of people who recover from CV19 with a new disability. I’ve run a calculator on myself. I have an 84% chance of surviving. But what about surviving without organ damage. No idea. The charts don’t give that data. I can only hope the a half century of aerobic training has to count for something. The John Muir quotes are nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? You may survive Covid-19, but will you be able to continue your pre-illness activities and lifestyle? A loss of 20-30% of lung capacity, or kidney or heart function, is SIGNIFICANT and life altering! Not to be trifled with.
      Plus (I hate being a Debbie Downer, but I’m practical and realistic) everyone seems convinced a vaccine is a given. Not so. We still don’t have a vaccine for AIDS or ebola, and flu vaccines are only partially effective, changing every year. I hope this virus proves susceptible to a vaccine, but I’m not banking on it, and until there is a good vaccine, I’ll continue being extra cautious.
      John Muir was my kind of guy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know he’s a disgruntled gov’t employee and has a lot to gain by making Trump look bad, but Rick Bright’s testimony today rang true to me. The *best* we can hope for is 18 months for a vaccine and realistically it will be years or never. Early on in the pandemic, I quoted some stats that assumed everyone in the world got infected. One of my IRL friends told me that she rolled her eyes when she read that. To me it’s looking more and more like a sure thing. We’re entering a whole new world with much death and even more disability.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sadly, no argument from me regarding your points, or those of Dr. Bright (who I don’t see as disgruntled but instead as muzzled).

        In life, I often lean toward pessimism, but I like to believe that in doing so, I’m preparing for the worst and happy to be pleasantly surprised when I’m wrong. I’ll keep hoping for a vaccine – believe me, no one’s hoping more than me – but I’m not relying on one in the near term. We need to be ready to be in this for the long haul.

        Liked by 1 person

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