"I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in."
John Muir, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir
As I sat on the bench on the unusually warm February day I watched the squirrels scamper by, I felt the warm breeze on my face, and I listened to the birds chirping, because they, like me, are being fooled into thinking that Spring has come.
I sat a long time. That was a day that I needed some self-love, and the sanctuary was the perfect place to get that. I go to the sanctuary often, but especially when I need to step away from the rush of my every day. It's quiet there, and very few people are there during the week. I love just sitting. At first my mind is still racing, all of my to-do lists are still in my head. But as I sit and I look and I listen, my mind gets quiet, till finally my only thoughts are the sounds of the birds and the feel of the breeze.
As I walked the long trail back to my car I thought of the quote that I wrote above. Call me a nerd, but so often John Muir quotes pop into my head when I'm fully immersed in nature. I have always felt a strong connection with Muir's words, and as I walked I realized that John Muir was a man far ahead of his time - a real forward thinker. His writings from one hundred years ago are completely relevant to our world today.
Some of you may have been inspired by Muir's quotes about nature - that is how I first came to know of him. Today I want to use my time here to share some information about this very forward thinker. If you already know this information you will be nodding your head and smiling. If I teach you something today, well, yay! Either way, I hope that this post inspires you to find some of his writings and immerse yourself in his words and thoughts.
John Muir was a Scottish born American who lived from 1838-1914. I describe Muir as an environmentalist, a naturalist and a philosopher. Muir felt that there is a strong spiritual interconnectedness of humanity and nature, which is something that I believe each one of us here at Focusing on Life have felt and written about on these pages at one time or another.
As a young adult Muir temporarily lost his eyesite in a work accident. When his vision was regained a month later he said he wanted to "turn his eyes to the fields and the woods." It was from this point forward that he became a world traveler and lover of nature.
Muir was an early advocate of the preservation of wilderness in the United States. He founded The Sierra Club, a grassroots environmental organization that has saved millions of acres of land, and worked to protect the environment.
After meeting and camping with Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt was inspired to protect the wilderness for everyone to see. During his presidency, Roosevelt signed into existence 5 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, 55 National Bird Sanctuaries & Wildlife Refuges, and 150 National Forests.
John Muir has published 300 articles and 10 major books.
Muir has a minor planet named after him, only a mile in diameter, but still, a planet! You can also find a Muir Beach, the John Muir College, where students study environmental science, Mount Muir in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. There is a mineral named after Muir, appropriately called Muirite, which is an orange colored mineral found in California. Muir also has plants named after him, one of which is called Erigeron Muirii. This plant is described as a daisy like member of the Aster family. There are even animals named for John Muir. Muir's Winter Wren is found in California and is a sub-species of the Winter Wren that can be found from Oregon to California. It is heartwarming to see how Muir's love of nature, and lifetime of activism, have been honored by giving his name to so many things in nature.
Yvon Chou wrote of Muir on the Sierra Club website, " John Muir's life reminds us of the important things that just one person can do..."
I've only grazed the surface of John Muir's life and legacy here. I am so thankful for him, his activism for the protection of land and the environment, and his words and writing. I hope you've been inspired to read some of his work.
What forward thinkers are you thankful for? We'd love to hear all about them!