Being Part Of The Wilderness; Not Just Surviving It

by Paul Kirtley

My friend, author and outdoor educator, Kevin Callan recently added the above film to his YouTube channel. It's a little more serious than many of his offerings but I think it's a great short film which reflects his deep love of wild places and accessing them by canoe. For me, one of Kevin's comments really stands out: "It seems nowadays we have more people trying to survive out here, rather than be part of it." I think this is true; it's in part due to to the largely urban developed-world population's increasing disconnect from nature and, in part, stems from the media's portayal as survival as entertainment. If you stand back and think about the concept of unadulterated nature being completely alien to most people, you realise how far removed from wilderness we, as a society, have become. It also illustrates why so many crave more nature in their lives. The wilds are not somewhere to be feared; they are to be embraced. Let us know what you think of Kevin's film and message via the comments below...
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Paul Kirtley is owner and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog as well as for various publications including Bushcraft and Survival Skills Magazine.

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl Colthup

A very thought provoking piece, it is a sad fact that too many people seem t be going into the bush to “survive” the experience, likewise they see survival and bushcrafting skills as the sole purpose of going into the natural environment, rather than as a set of skills to make life more comfortable.
They take pride in doing it harder, rather than smarter…
As a side note, nearly all native languages lack a word for “Wilderness”, they just call it home, wilderness is a construct of an overly urbanised culture.

Thanks for sharing this one,

Karl
(Australia)

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Paul Kirtley

Hey Karl,

Good to hear from you. I’m glad you found this thought provoking.

Interesting point about words – or lack of – for wilderness.

Thanks for your comment.

All the best,

Paul

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Alan

Lovely message in the short film Paul.
It’s an irony that so many challenge themselves to go out and survive in the wilderness with an us against nature attitude, thus disconnecting themselves from many of the most rewarding reasons to be out there.
Sure it’s good to have the skills and knowledge to look after yourself and these can certainly bring a deeper understanding of our surroundings but if people take the time to be part of nature they may well find that with the resulting further understanding it’s not so wild after all.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the word wilderness is missing from native languages, because they are part of their surroundings instead of battling it, at home instead of the wild, as Karl says in the previous comment.
Time has become a huge constraint in our modern western world and time in nature is often limited compared to native peoples but perhaps our biggest challenge is not nature itself but becoming part of it and spending time being at one with it, soaking up all that we miss when taking it on in a battle of survival, and I agree the medias portrayal of survival as entertainment isn’t helping.

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Alan Linee

Ps, Thanks for sharing!

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Colette

Glad that you shared this video! Getting back to Nature means reconnecting with Mother Earth who nurtures us, sustains us and inspires us. After spending time in the bush, I always feel replenished and my connection with my planet deeper and more meaningful. To fall asleep to the cry of the loon, to wake up to the song of warblers (yeah, at 4 a.m.), to canoe on quiet lakes, to smell the scent of pines, and hear nothing but the sound of the breeze in the canopies of the forest, that is paradise. Kevin’s message is profound, and I am glad that his daughter shares his passion. Hopefully, the young generation can carry on this message. As an aside, Gray Owl’s essays on the preservation of our natural environments are as relevant today as it was when he wrote them in 1935. (thank you England for sending him our way!) Cheers, Colette (Canada)

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Julian Cresswell

Paul,

Thanks for the link, it has a very harmonious quality to it, a partial antidote to Monday morning!

I like Karl’s very astute gem that only we “civilised” world call the outdoors wilderness, the connotations carried with that word put fear and aggression to survive into everyone’s mind. I’ve named my Scout camps something exciting but not fearful by accident rather than design, but I’ll now be conscious of this perception, perpetuated perhaps by a certain Mr B Grylls and aim to show that working together with nature is more effective than struggling against because that really is a one-sided battle.

By the way your old colleague Ray Mears was on Radio 2 with Graham Norton (although Radcliffe & Maconie told me it had closed down as I believe you’re a 6music fan too) discussing this very fact on Saturday; its on Radio Player/Iplayer.

Julian

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Jake Pyett

What a great message! 🙂

Thanks for sharing Paul.

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Paul Kirtley

My pleasure Jake.

🙂

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Paul Kirtley

My pleasure Jake 🙂

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Russ

Hi Paul,

Been reading your blog for sometime now and wanted to say that I totally agree with your statements above.

I do hope to attend your Elementary course as soon as I get some time off work.

All the best to you and have a nice day.

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Hi Russ,

I’m glad this blog struck a chord with you.

Hope to see you on a course before too long.

Warm regards,

Paul

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Jon

Hi , very thought provoking …..people today have forgotten what is truly valuable today , they think they need all the latest gadgets , a bigger house or car and no matter how much they earn …..they still seem to struggle and be chasing the next wage packet to pay for a lifestyle that when it boils down to it ……uses up their lives and gives them nothing but stress. As long as you/we/they have a roof over our heads , warmth and a few essentials and those we love around us ….what more does anyone truly need.

I always feel sorry that as we as a society encroaches on our wild spaces in many cases for profit and greed ….we are losing a little of ourselves , how many in the course of their day rushing around chasing the £ do they notice the parent birds feeding their young , or the new shoots of wild plants growing and the wildlife they support , the sparrow hawk above the roadside Virgo as the speed by in their cars . I never feel more content or alive and happy than when I’m out in the countryside or the mountains ( both here in the UK or in the French Alps) …its a true shame many others never give it a thought

Reply

Paul Kirtley

Very well said Jon 🙂

Warm regards,

Paul

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