Going out is going in

October 9, 2011

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

A friend told me he once went out
into the wilderness to be alone
with himself
and it was so hard that he fled
the following morning.

I’m pretty sure that John Muir
would understand
because taking us inward
is one of nature’s most important functions.

If we can bear it.

And yet, as Socrates pointed out,
the unexamined life is not worth living.

Going inside means facing our own hardest truths.
Admitting those truths is what moves us forward in life.

If we can not look at ourselves honestly,
we limit our lives.

2 comments on “Going out is going in
  1. Oriah says:

    For many years I used to take people out into the wilderness to do vision quests- a ceremonial time of solitary fasting and praying. People expected to be afraid of the dark, the wild animals, the sounds they could not identify, the bugs, of getting lost, etc. But what they were always most afraid of (although didn’t always know it until they were out there) was what they would find in daring to be alone with themselves. They were afraid they would find themselves in the company of someone they did not want to be with. If they could stay, they always found a way to make room in their hearts for the man or woman they were- and that was a far more courageous act than confonting bears or the discomfort of the cold.

  2. I love this comment, Oriah, and I can see how it would be true. But oh, how hard for many of us to be with only oneself. Courageous, yes. Thank you for this.

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