Reevaluating Wilderness

While talking about heading to my reflection spot I realized that Kenta and I had very similar spots, so we decided to walk over together this afternoon. When we arrived I noticed two fishermen on the other side of the bank from my reflection spot. I felt uncomfortable sitting right across from them and trying to reflect, so I walked down towards the mouth of the creek a bit further with Kenta. As I sat down to write while Kenta flitted around taking pictures I realized how odd it was that I was so uncomfortable due to the fishermen. They seemed like extremely nice people, and weren’t talking or making any noise at all. Yet I felt completely comfortable with Kenta around my reflection spot, even taking a picture of me at some point.

Perhaps the reason I was so uncomfortable with their presence was because I did not expect them to be there. I knew Kenta would be there; I walked with him. To me, they were intruding on my reflection spot uninvited, fishing in my private wilderness. I thought about how we defined wilderness in class. What made something wild? Was it because you don’t expect to see people there? Sure cars whisked by as I have mentioned before, but people weren’t supposed to be in MY spot. If I had been on the Westhampton Green I would have had no problem sitting down with strangers nearby and reflecting. Maybe this expectation of being alone in nature is what makes a place wilder than another.

That path behind the baseball fields was my personal frontier, a wilderness that only I was supposed to brave (with a friend if I invited them). Even though that place had been touched many times by humans, as evidenced by the trash and road right across the creek, it was still untouched by the masses in my mind. Thousands of people cross the Westhampton Green, it is a part of our campus, but this place was supposed to be the outer edge. It was a place for me to reflect and be alone because no one else should be there.

This concrete private view of my spot as wilderness was inappropriate. Everyone has access to my spot, and I’ve even talked before about encouraging others to experience these fringe areas of campus. Now that I realize this I need to learn to reflect better under situations that I did not expect to encounter. It is not my wilderness, it is our campus’s wilderness.

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One Response to Reevaluating Wilderness

  1. Caroline says:

    It is interesting how wilderness is really a spectrum of wildness rather than a simply defined word. On one hand, wilderness by definition is wild, uncultivated land. But as we have lessened the presence of wilderness in our everyday life, even a simple reflection spot away from manicured landscaping can be considered wilderness. I am intrigued by your definition of wilderness, Taylor, and I completely agree with how one of the significant aspects of wild land is the expectation to not see another human being. This is a great way to find wilderness even in a populated area like UR–to discover the wildness within a place surrounded by man-made things. This is a very different side of the spectrum from “wild, uncultivated land,” but since many natural processes are still occurring without human interference it can still be seen as a true form of wilderness. Great job finding a strong connection to natural wilderness even on such a manicured campus!

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