“…and all Nature’s wildness tells the same story–the shocks and outbursts of earthquakes, volcanoes, geysers, roaring, thundering waves and floods, the silent up rush of sap in plants, storms of every sort–each and all are the orderly beauty-making love-beats of Nature’s heart.” -John Muir
I’m a sucker for a free book. In Hacker Paradise, if someone was traveling with a book, when they finished it, they would pass it on to another nomad. That’s how I found myself in (temporary) possession of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and The Fault in Our Stars, both of which are great reads.
One day, my friend Lucy posted in the HP Slack channel that she was ready to pass on The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures, and I jumped on it. I’d heard of John Muir before. I knew he had some woods named after him in the northwest US, but I didn’t know much else about him. Mostly, a book about adventures was particularly enticing.
Little did I know that this book would end up sending me on my own adventure, two months later.
John Muir was a radical dude. He definitely marched to the beat of his own drum, and I don’t think he minded being different from the norm. If I were to hazard a guess as to his Enneagram type, I’d say he was a Four with a Five wing (my Vox Veniae small group just collectively shook their heads at me).
See, John had this radical passion for nature, and he was willing to do anything to experience as much of it as possible. This lead him to living in Yosemite for a few years where he could immerse himself completely in the waterfalls and cliff faces and vistas and flowers.
He came to see God in nature, which, while a common notion now, would’ve been viewed as heresy back then. Still, he saw nature as “straight from the hand of God, uncorrupted by civilization and domestication.”
During his life, John documented the landscape and his adventures in it. These writings and his subsequent advocacy work became the backbone of the conservation movement and the establishment of the Sierra Club.
John’s writings and life story have really resonated with me this year. He knew what he wanted, and he went after it. He knew the world was big and had a lot to offer and explore, so he traveled it. He wanted to soak in its differences and similarities.
So when I learned that John was born in Dunbar, Scotland, only a 30-minute train ride from Edinburgh, I knew I had to visit. Last Saturday, I loaded up my bike and took a day trip to Dunbar. I visited the John Muir Birthplace Museum and read every word about his life and achievements. I did a walking tour of the town to see where he lived and went to school and played. I walked part of The John Muir Way, a 130-mile route across Scotland.
When, I was done being wooed by the beauty of Dunbar, I biked the 27-miles back to Edinburgh on National Cycle Route 76. I was able to soar through green pastures and woods and along the coast. I was able to connect with the nature of Scotland in a way that I hadn’t, and, even though I had to contend with 20mph headwinds, it was beautiful. I fell even more in love with this country.
Thank you, John Muir, for living out your dreams. Thank you for writing about them. Thank you for your conservation work that made Yosemite a US National Park and inspired people to build The John Muir Way and National Cycle Route 76. Thank you for seeing a world that was bigger than just you. Thank you for being a role model for me.
I made a little video of my day that you can watch below.
Who’s been an inspiration for you lately? Comment below, and let me know!
“There’s a Tibetan saying: ‘Wherever you have friends that’s your country, and wherever you receive love, that’s your home.’”
– John Muir