Magazine article American Forests

Forest Therapy

Magazine article American Forests

Forest Therapy

Article excerpt

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."

John Muir

It's a Friday afternoon. Things are piling up on your desk, your last vacation seems like a former life, and your facial tics keep better time than your watch.

What to do? Well, you could slave away all weekend to catch up on work and then pay your therapist $100 an hour to diagnose acute overworked-underpaid-stress syndrome and prescribe some it's-okay-to-be-not-okay rehab. Or you could cut out the middleman and head off to the woods.

With his biophilia hypothesis, Edward O. Wilson suggests that we humans have a genetic basis for our love of nature. And yet all too often it is a long-distance relationship. Our on-line world full of deadlines, traffic jams, and sterile environments provides little to satisfy this most basic human need. After two million years of evolution in nature, we now have little contact with the natural world that designed and nurtured us.

We need the tonic of wildness, wrote Thoreau in 1854. That was before cars, computers, phones, and urban sprawl with its mountains of concrete, plastic, and steel. Today we desperately need the tonic of wildness.

This is especially true for the readers (and the editors) of this magazine and everyone else involved in the protection of trees and forests. To paraphrase Edward Abbey, we mustn't spend all our time working and fighting for the natural world - we must get out there and enjoy it as well. That immersion, after all, is what inspires us to save it.

John Muir said that if the wilderness is to be saved, the people must come to love it. That means they must experience it. Muir followed his own advice, spending weeks and even months at a time in the wild lands he worked so hard to protect.

To be effective conservationists, we have to periodically recharge by reacquainting ourselves with the aesthetic qualities of trees and forests. …

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