John Muir ; April 21, 1838 – December 24, 1914

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John Muir:

“I know that I could under ordinary circumstances accumulate wealth and obtain a fair position in society. But I am sure that the mind of no truant schoolboy is more free and disengaged from all the grave plans and purposes and pursuits of ordinary orthodox life than mine.

I drifted about from rock to rock, from stream to stream, from grove to grove. Where night found me, there I camped. When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make its acquaintance and hear what it had to tell. … I asked the boulders I met, whence they came and whither they were going.

I am a captive. I am bound. Love of pure unblemished nature seems to overmaster and blur out of sight all other objects and considerations.

Yet how hard most people work for mere dust and ashes and care, taking no thought of growing in knowledge and grace, never having time to get in sight of their own ignorance.

Living artificially in towns, we are sickly, and never come to know ourselves.

Plants, animals, and stars are all kept in place, bridled along appointed ways, with one another, and through the midst of one another — killing and being killed, eating and being eaten, in harmonious proportions and quantities.

Going to the mountains is going home.

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

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.

Take a course of good water and air, and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.

Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill, care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.

Society speaks and all men listen, mountains speak and wise men listen.

Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.

The whole wilderness seems to be alive and familiar, full of humanity. The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly.

I will follow my instincts, be myself for good or ill, and see what will be the upshot. As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near to the heart of the world as I can.

No right way is easy in this rough world. We must risk our lives to save them.

I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

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