Wilderness. The word itself is music.
Wilderness, wilderness… We scarcely know what we mean by the term, though the sound of it draws all whose nerves and emotions have not yet been irreparable stunned, deadened, numbed by the caterwauling of commerce, the sweating scramble for profit and domination.
Why such allure in the very word? What does it really mean? Can wilderness by defined in the words of government officialdom as simply “A minimum of not less than 5000 contiguous acres of roadless area”? This much may be essential in attempting a definition but it is not sufficient; something more is involved.
Suppose we say that wilderness invokes nostalgia, a justified not merely sentimental nostalgia for the lost America our forefathers knew. The word suggests the past and the unknown, the womb of the earth from which we all emerged. It means something lost and something still present, something remote and at the same time intimate, something buried in our blood and nerves, something beyond us and without limit. Romance—but not to be dismissed on that account. The romantic view, while not the whole of truth, is a necessary part of the whole truth.
But the love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth with bore us and sustains us, the only home we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need—if only we had the eyes to see.
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness