Story and photo by Marissa Jensen
What exists at the very core of a person who longs for solitude? After all, isn’t it our nature, as human beings, to be social and crave connections with one another? Instead, some of us go to extreme lengths to distance ourselves; climbing mountains, wading through wetlands and pushing through mental and physical boundaries just for the sake of being alone.
In solitude the small things become miniscule and realization dawns that we are all a part of so much more. Being one with the expansiveness of the land allows an opportunity to reflect, in our own time, with no judgment or ridicule from others or even ourselves. Experiencing the wild, alone, becomes a refuge, a solace, one we continuously seek.
But the temple in which we go for such solitude becomes harder to find and as such, farther from mind. Many wild places are only a horizon’s glance from the street or city. So we push farther, looking for an escape from life, hoping to drown out the noise.
Very recently, this noise became deafening, as life as we’ve known it shifted – or more like flew – off course. The importance of socializing turned to social distancing, and the outdoors that has always been a reprieve for some now becomes a potential remedy for all.
I am hopelessly optimistic, even in the face of adversity, and I can’t help but look at our current situation and see the unique opportunity this provides.
And what is this opportunity? The freedom to slow down, take a deep breath, and connect back to the land. To be reminded of who we are, where our roots originated, and all that is important in our lives.
Social distancing does not refer to the woodcock that’s flying north during their spring migration, or the sandhill cranes moving across the Midwest.
Quarantine doesn’t apply to the native plants in your backyard that are slowly beginning to rise from the ground, or the pollinators that will soon be arriving to feed upon their blooms.
In fact, now is the perfect time to explore the outdoors, taking an opportunity to learn something new and connect with something bigger than us all.
There is peace in the land, a peace that holds the ability to transform us all. In the upcoming weeks, or even months, search for your alone, a place where you can disconnect from life and reconnect with yourself. Share the love of wild places with others – from a distance – so everyone can experience the soothing affect the land has on us all.
And when this is all over, don’t forget what you’ve learned, what you felt in this alone time. Consider giving back to the land that welcomed you in with open arms and provided comfort during these difficult times, so that someone else may find alleviation in times of turmoil.
Continue to seek out solitude and reflection, to disconnect from the distractions of modern-day life, and maybe, just maybe, this newfound love will help us continue to grow ourselves and these wild places for many years to come.
Marissa Jensen is Education and Outreach Program Manager for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever
The uplands that sustain our souls, in times both good and bad, need your help now more than ever. Please consider joining or renewing your support for Pheasants Forever by clicking on this link and helping us protect these critical areas and our cherished traditions.