Wilderness canoeing in Algonquin Park, Ontario, camping with the big trees of British Columbia, falling in love with the earth, and returning to nature.
   
     The following excerpt is from
IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas, "The Kerouac of the new millennium." (FW)
   
     I can say now, with absolute honesty, that I did not learn a single worthwhile thing about life and living until I left school. Not one. Not unless you include the brief course I took in typing, and the one-week canoe trip I went on in a highschool outdoor-ed class, which was a singularly life-altering episode because it showed me that what I had been experiencing as a youth and young man, and calling life, had nothing to do with life at all- not compared to the beauty and silence I experienced on that trip into the austere comfort of the northern Ontario lakes, with the lonely call of the loon, and the feel of the breeze on my face as I was falling asleep outside.
     I consider it an insult to my existence that I don't even recall seeing a single moon-shadow until I was twenty-two years old- and I know the exact time I saw it because I remember being shocked that I had a shadow at night, and I could not believe the moon was its cause. Not that I hadn't seen shadows at night. Oh no, every porch and every street corner in my neighborhood had a blaring light on it, making certain old Luna never got to sing her song.
     That canoe trip was the beginning of the end for me, for it was then that I had begun my romance with the wilds. I had fallen in love with the earth, and it would not be long before I gave myself to that love, left humanity behind, learned to own nothing but what fit into a backpack, to care for nothing but to sit on a remote cliff and stare out to sea, and to wish for nothing but that a few other kindred souls were there beside me.
    I set out to the wild lands, to the forests, and the sea, and found myself looking for a way to forget all I had been helplessly bequeathed, and to remember instead all that had been left out.
     I had no real understanding of what the word 'ugly' meant until the first time I spent a couple of months in the towering forests of the west coast wilds, and then returned quickly to the land of pavement, square structures, signs, lights, idiotic haircuts, automobiles, cosmetics, and functionless clothing. Never have I forgotten the shock which these unsightly creations betrayed to my virginal sight. How my eye became so weary and sore all of the sudden, just standing on a city street, or sitting in a house, no matter how superlatively decorated. What a wound it became to my very soul to spend day after day immersed in such visual and psychic excrement.
     I realized then that the natural glories and miracles which the earth has brought forth cannot help but make mankind's constructions appear like the finger paintings of blind, insecure brats. I wonder if this is why we have been so eager to rid ourselves of the earth's great treasures- the forests and the beasts- because these make us feel so little, so unimpressive, so dumb. ...




Jack Haas is a wilderness explorer, world traveler, and independent researcher and writer. He is the author of four highly acclaimed books:
THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, THE DREAM OF BEING: aphorisms, ideograms, and aislings, and IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey.
 
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