In Balanced Achievement’s Quote 20 series, we explore 20 inspirational quotes about a particular topic or 20 memorable quotes said by a historically significant individual. In this article, we turn our attention to looking at 20 John Muir quotes that illuminate the reasons why spending time in nature is such a nourishing activity.
In comparison to the immortalized Scottish-American naturalist and environmental philosopher John Muir, there is perhaps not a single individual who’s taught us more about nature’s transcendental powers or done more to ensure the preservation of America’s forests. Throughout his lifetime, the man who became known simply as ‘John of the Woods‘ not only published over 300 articles and 12 books depicting his time in nature, but also co-founded the still prominent conservationist organization known as the Sierra Club.
Additionally, thanks to his work lobbying Congress, Muir would be bestowed with the title ‘Father of the National Parks’ after the United States government formally recognized Yellowstone, Sequoia, Yosemite and Rainier as the country’s first in the late 1800s. Amongst his most memorable outdoor adventures, Muir would undertake a walk of around 1,000 miles from Kentucky to Florida, spend three years living full time in the Yosemite Valley, venture to Alaska on four separate occasions and even serve as President Theodore Roosevelt’s personal mountain guide.
For the patron saint of the American wilderness, who’s had four additional books published posthumously and a 211-mile Sierra Nevada hiking trail named in his honor since his passing in 1914, it was only in the untamed outdoors that he found freedom and renewal. As the following 20 John Muir quotes show, we too can nourish our minds, bodies and souls by regularly spending time unplugged in the wild:
“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”
“In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
“If one pine were placed in a town square, what admiration it would excite! Yet who is conscious of the pine-tree multitudes in the free woods, though open to everybody?”
“Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.”
“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.”
“The mountains are fountains of men as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains – mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.”
“Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods. Here grow the wallflower and the violet. The squirrel will come and sit upon your knee, the logcock will wake you in the morning. Sleep in forgetfulness of all ill. Of all the upness accessible to mortals, there is no upness comparable to the mountains.”
“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
“Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality.”
“Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants, and law-givers are ever at their wits’ end devising. The hall and the theater and the church have been invented, and compulsory education. Why not add compulsory recreation? … Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwithstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief. Yet few think of pure rest or of the healing power of Nature.”
“Living artificially in towns, we are sickly, and never come to know ourselves.”
“Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.”
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
“Wilderness is not only a haven for native plants and animals but it is also a refuge from society. Its a place to go to hear the wind and little else, see the stars and the galaxies, smell the pine trees, feel the cold water, touch the sky and the ground at the same time, listen to coyotes, eat the fresh snow, walk across the desert sands, and realize why its good to go outside of the city and the suburbs. Fortunately, there is wilderness just outside the limits of the cities and the suburbs in most of the United States, especially in the West.”
“In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wildness. The galling hardness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.”
“With inexpressible delight you wade out into the grassy sun-lake, feeling yourself contained in one of Nature’s most sacred chambers, withdrawn from the sterner influences of the mountains, secure from all intrusion, secure from yourself, free in the universal beauty. And notwithstanding the scene is so impressively spiritual, and you seem dissolved in it, yet everything about you is beating with warm, terrestrial, human love, delightfully substantial and familiar.”
“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.”
“Wander here [Glacier National Park] a whole summer, if you can. Thousands of God’s wild blessings will search you and soak you as if you were a sponge, and the big days will go by uncounted. If you are business-tangled, and so burdened by duty that only weeks can be got out of the heavy-laden year … give a month at least to this precious reserve. The time will not be taken from the sum of your life. Instead of shortening, it will indefinitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal. Nevermore will time seem short or long, and cares will never again fall heavily on you, but gently and kindly as gifts from heaven.”
“Take a course of good water and air, and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own. Go quietly, alone; no harm will befall you.”