I just finished a film composed of all of the footage from the 2016/2017 ski season in Colorado. A lot of the material came from trips into wilderness areas where motorized vehicles are not allowed and “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, a place where man himself does not remain.” (Wilderness Act of 1964) Hopefully the film will say all of this with no need for the following writing. However, if I have not conveyed the intended message clearly, below is a description of the films purpose.
Wilderness areas are sanctuaries, not only for wild ecosystems and conservation but for humans, a kind of sacred ground. Every religion has a place of worship a place that is holy. These places are respected and used for the betterment of all those that seek to benefit from them. The connection humans in the “civilized world” currently have to nature is tenuous at best. We have forgotten or have been tricked to believe that our lives are separate from the natural world. The places where nature is untouched or protected are being increasingly encroached upon because of this deception. The endless pursuit for gain is not as productive as it may initially seem. The Irony is that by building more and more and gaining more things we are actually losing something much more important.
Our Idea of time has become distorted so that we see doing nothing as a negative and harmful thing. This is not true. I like to call it “Non-Productive Productivity.” Have you ever worked a job where you are asked to do something over and over that is a net drain on the company because if you do not hit production benchmarks there is no way the company could survive? Another example is production when the amount of resources used to produce something is greater than the amount of resources produced. This is an example of the mindset of we must do something otherwise we are not good humans and are not contributing to the society. This mindset is so engrained in us that we willingly overproduce or produce to a net loss just to be producing.
Wilderness areas are an example of our ability to do nothing, and the net gains received by all of the people, animals, plants and societies of our world. This film was created to illustrate the need for wilderness and to ask for further protections for one of our greatest treasures.
The first part of the film shows the melancholy emptiness of wilderness and the true and total vulnerability of mankind. This is an important point that we all too often chose to overlook. This is one of the largest if not the biggest contributor to the delusion of truth that we are separate from nature. Sarah McLachlan described this truth in so many words. “I’d much rather be in the expanse of the wilderness because it feels like part of my world. It’s a unique perspective. You’re this tiny speck in a huge environment, and it’s nice to be reminded of that.” In the end nature has the final say.
The second part is an illustration of joyous dance celebrating the true freedom and liberation of accepting that you are a part of nature and immersing yourself in the wild. This piece is made to show the net gains to society that come from doing nothing and respecting our sacred grounds, or holy places. I and many like me are extremely lucky to be able to experience nature through the way of snowboarding. However you do not need expensive skis or fancy GPS machines or prepackaged expedition foods to find connection with the wild. Enjoyment of these wild spaces manifests in many different ways. I would urge those who have never walked through the snowy pines or sat alone by the bubbling brook to go out and explore nature, to remember that we are nature, and to learn from these unique spaces. The experience is different for everyone and we all have something to learn. Henry David Thoreau said. “Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.”
The last piece of this film gives the impression of a traveler stricken with wanderlust in awe of a new world discovered. The scene concludes with the traveler brining the lessons learned in the wild back into daily life; a full circle picture of the traveler’s journey within the wild and within himself. This piece is the key to the puzzle because if we do not keep the lessons learned from the wild we will be robbing ourselves of our history and allowing delusion one more foothold in our hearts. Please keep these sanctuaries wild and free, not just for the ones who know them now but for those who have yet to seek the peace of the wild. “The idea of wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders.” Edward Abbey