I wrote this blog mid-June, one week after leaving San Francisco.
Riding through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada we were surrounded by pristine pine forest. The environment reminded me of journeys to Sweden, Istanbul’s Star Islands and the Croatian coast.
As I stood in the middle of a quiet road in the forest, two deer walked onto the road. Meters away from me, both deer stopped and stood still for what felt like a full minute. As I set a step in their direction, the deer gently moved off the road and graciously hopped into the forest. It was a magical experience.
Our road has been marked by beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to enter much of it: the vast majority of forest along the road is marked by “No Trespassing” signs indicating that “visitors are not welcome”.
The craving for possession of land is foreign to me. In Sweden, any person can cross another man’s land as long as the visitor treats the land with respect. This “freedom to roam” is a constitutional right. After all, we are all visitors on earth – the land belongs to no one.
Bliss or pleasure is derived not from possession but from service: walks through the woods and squirrels playing in your backyard versus a document that states your ownership. As Emerson writes:
“Miller owns this field, Locke that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But non of them owns the landscape. There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. This is the best part of these men’s farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title.”
Wonderful to read this piece. Thank you for your inspiring words. I too have had the experience to be in a forest very close to a deer: we both stopped to look at each other. It was magical. I felt deep gratitude for being accepted by the deer in her forest: after all I was a visitor, she was in her natural habitat.
Thank you, Titiaan, for reminding us that we are all part of Nature; that carving it up dis-integrates what is in essence whole. Let us be guardians of that which sustains our very own existence.