SANDRA HARRIS

Painting the Spirit of the Canadian Wilderness

Blog:

A female figure steping into the overflowing coastal forest while a male figure stands watching.
Why Go Into The Woods?
Posted: September 26, 2015

I go outside because it makes me feel better.

It's fun to feel my senses sharpen, to feel my muscles work, to have to hear everything over the sound of my own heartbeat drumming in my ears, to pause to catch my breath and being filled up by the living colour of the world, and to achieve the satisfaction of seeing the view with my own eyes. Perhaps, in my heart of hearts, the reason why I go into the woods is to seek an experience of being alive.

An adventure into the wilderness often feels like a hero’s journey because, in this time we live in, it requires a conscious choice to step out of the civilization that defines our daily lives. To be physically and psychologically challenged by the Natural environment is to come face to face with yourself. Everything you experience climbing a mountain is a metaphor for any area of your life: to be sure, you will find risk and hardship along the way. And you will have to dig deep within yourself to find that essential part of you that will fight to persevere, to be positive, to be prepared, to pace yourself, to use your senses, to exercise sound judgement, to be ingenious, to be humble, and to have gratitude. And somehow just to feel in those fleeting moments your own human spirit come alive witnessing in wonder the sheer beauty of the world is well worth it.

I find that I need to go to the great outdoors to recharge my emotional enthusiasm to live my own life: to retreat into the mountains fires up my imagination. My ambitions and dreams awaken. I’m back to being who I am — and being who I am is the boon that I bring back to integrate into my daily life.

These are some of my reasons for going into the woods. What are yours?

 

This was all inspired by a question I was posed at a wedding recently that I wasn’t able to answer to my own satisfaction.

I was talking to one of the groomsmen, "Mike", who was blown away by my paintings. He really liked them: the colour and the movement made the landscape scenes interesting to him. Mike had grown up in Montreal and spoke of the city with passion and a light in his eyes that so obviously enjoyed that lifestyle. He loved what the city had to offer, its vibrancy, its food, the people, etc. He was a city man. And now he was living on Vancouver Island where it seemed like everyone he'd met there prefered to go do activities in the great outdoors. This wasn't his area of interest, but his friends' enthusiasm was infectious, and making him curious..

So then he asks me this question, something along the lines of: what's the big deal about the wilderness, about these places you paint?

Standing there in my fancy dress, I knew that I knew the answer. My answer was on the tip of my tongue, but I blinked, blankly, because I'd never taken the time to think it all the way through before. Consequently my mind was flooded by too many answers that were all equally relevant, but didn't get straight to the point. I wanted to phrase it in a way that would be understood by someone who admittedly didn’t get it (yet).

 

I'll continue to ponder Mike's question.. even as the part of me that would rather just go DO something instead of sitting around talking about it insists that explaining this is pointless: if you don’t physically go into the woods you’re never going to get it because it’s something to be experienced and enjoyed, not over-intellectualized.

So if you too are curious about Canada's wild places, just remember that one day’s exposure to the mountains is better than reading a blog about why you should go explore the great outdoors!

Previous Posts

2015

Why Go Into The Woods?
Haida Gwaii

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions:

(telephone) 604.992.6588

(email) info@sandraharris.ca