“Wilderness, it is here I came to know myself, but it was only just the beginning, because I found the more you know your true self, the more you know about those around you,” J. Shaw, participant on trail with the Wilderness Leadership School, South Africa.

I chose to quest in Death Valley, over the holidays to process a life transition.  I had been going through a personal transformation over the last two years and felt I was finally coming down off of the arc of change.  I needed to sit in solitude in a wild and remote place to reflect and honor the changes as well as learn how to step forward and live authentically in my awareness and learnings.

The catalyst was a betrayal in a past relationship that cracked me wide open, creating a chasm into which I dove deeply to understand what it means to be human.  I contemplated what it means to have meaningful, trusting, honest, fulfilling and loving relationships – with my partner, with friends and family, with myself.  I questioned honest communication, ego awareness, and standing as witness to your consciousness.  I wanted to know how to access love and happiness on my own and not have to rely on others.

Questing in the desert with no food or family really accelerates the transformational process. It’s amazing what your mind creates to make yourself happy, protect your ego or to give you a sense of control.  In the “outside world”, these ego stories are played out in unhealthy behaviors and relationships.  Sacrificing your physical comforts of your normal reality for a few days helps to strip away all those “comfortable” stories…stories usually rooted in assumptions, judgments, dishonesty, and fear.

What if our goals in life weren’t to get rich, make money, sell stuff/buy stuff, feed our ego, or feel powerful?  What if we were here to experience love and reproduce that love.  What if the secret to life was to deeply understand love…and to gift it away…and what if time in wilderness and gifting it away replenished our own feelings of love?

What is your vision of a healthy modern human society?  Our vision at The WILD Foundation is to protect and interconnect at least half of the planet, land and water, because wild-areas provide essential social, spiritual, biological and economic benefits – Nature Needs Half™. We envision a planet with abundant wildlife and wild places, which produces ample clean water, fresh air and natural resources that support all life. We believe that intact wilderness areas are an essential core element of a healthy modern human society.

The WILD Foundation and our partners in The Wilderness Network share a common history – one created by a white game-ranger and his Zulu mentor, during the apartheid era in South Africa. Dr. Ian Player and Magqubu Ntombela knew that taking people into wild-nature to experience wild-ness is the best way to connect people to one-another and to foster a relationship between people and nature.

From this understanding grew The WILD Foundation and The World Wilderness Congress. During the early years, The WILD Foundation focused its efforts on wilderness experiences. We continue this work through several programs within The Wilderness Network and have broadened our reach to include many other avenues that enhance the human-nature relationship.

Through on-the-ground field projects, art and culture for nature conservation, publishing, training, and the World Wilderness Congress, we invoke and honor our roots. The wilderness is humanity’s birthplace and our common heritage.

Just as it is our common heritage, wild-nature is also an essential part of a healthy, modern human society.

What if you had a pool of happiness stored deep in your body?  What if unhealthy relationships, unhealthy lifestyles, or environmental destruction caused that happiness pool to leak and you found yourself unhappy, lost, unmotivated, numb, or sad?  What if spending time in a wild place recharged your happiness pool?

In my pink canyon in the desert, I learned to access and recharge my happiness and love.

The experience also brought with it a responsibility to share with others that this is possible.

Are you interested in learning more about wilderness solo experiences?  Contact me for more information: alyson@wild.org

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