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 “A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.” – I Eberhardt

What I Didn’t Know About Muir

Half Dome from Tioga Pass

Half Dome from Tioga Pass, a Yosemite landscape Muir spent years seeing. I only saw it for the first time two years ago. — Photo by Pat Bean

            I’ve long known about John Muir’s association with Yosemite and his role in creating the Sierra Club, but I knew nothing about the 40.000-mile journey he took when he was 73.

I discovered this when I came across Muir’s unpublished journals and correspondence that provide the contents for the book, “John Muir’s Last Journey: South to the Amazon and East to Africa,” that were collected and edited by Michael Branch.

Upon discovering the book, published in 2001, at my local library, I thought about Margaret Mead’s words that I had once read, and which as a writer have stayed with me through the years. She wrote that perhaps she wasn’t the world’s best anthropologist, but that she was best known because she always wrote down and published her research, beginning with her first book, “Coming of Age in Samoa,” published in 1928 to her 1972 autobiography “Blackberry Winter.”

It impressed upon me the value of keeping journals and writing things down when they were still fresh in the mind.

And a Samoan landscape that Margaret Mead saw but I never did. -- Wikipedia photo

And a Samoan landscape that Margaret Mead saw but I never did. — Wikipedia photo

Mead also had a lot of other things to say that have influenced me life. For example:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that every has.”

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.”

“It is utterly false and cruelly arbitrary to put all the play and learning into childhood, all the work into middle age, and all the regrets into old age.”

And then there are the words of John Muir, which closely express my feelings about Mother Nature:

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

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.

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

            Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back to reading about Muir’s last journey. I think he, Mead and me all identify closely with Eberthardt’s quote about being a nomad.

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: Long-tailed ducks on Lake Ontario http://tinyurl.com/bolxga5 Great photos

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