What Does Wilderness Mean?
A Reflection on Wilderness by Washington Wild volunteer, Avery Meeker
From the distant ‘kraa’ of the Raven, to the sharp alarm call of the Pica, the sound of the Wilderness is truly the best song I have ever known. In today’s world, wilderness is constantly being redefined because we live in the generation of globalization and rapid human expansion. The reach of air pollution and the faint echoes of human civilization constantly reach farther beyond our borders than ever before. To the settlers, this idea of wilderness was a haunting and scary place full of unknown. Its existence was thought to need taming, like an unpredictable beast, which could only be controlled by the mighty power of human kind. Now that we have harnessed its power, we must use it wisely and recognize its beauty is not everlasting.
As a student of both Environmental Science and Sociology at the University of Washington, wilderness to me represents a place of many memories and is the perfect example of the absence of human society. Separated from the social constructs of the city, wilderness doesn’t follow the typical beat of societies drum. Wilderness is a land where natural systems write the laws and humans relinquish their power. Yet we give agency to its existence, we have feelings for it and we fight for its protection as if it is part of our families. And our home is exactly what wilderness is. Its harmonies serenade us when we listen with open ears, its colors beg to be observed, and its body breathes with the changing of the seasons. This wilderness constantly entices its viewer to pull out their binoculars and focus in on its majesty. In nature there is little control, which intrigues me beyond belief; it makes me yearn to understand its systems, to glimpse under it’s feathers and to search for its skin.
From my experiences as a volunteer at Washington Wild and as a student who resides in the beautiful cascade lowlands, I have learned the problems we face as stewards of the land are all within our own power to solve. The only one guarding the solution is societies’ own lack of recognition and motivation. We maintain the control over this shared destiny and it is encouraging to know Washington Wild is helping lead this movement. Each and every one of us must pull out our binoculars to search within our communities and ourselves for the answers. Sometimes the costs may seem personal and like a burden; however, I would contend there is no burden to knowing you are doing what is in your own power. We also must understand the rewards are broad, and will serve every generation yet to come. If we can fight these barriers we have imagined the rewards will be felt forever. From its wondrous skylines to its never-ending symphony, this home will always be most recognized by the warriors of the wild.