Thoreau and Boundary Waters Wildness

By on May 27, 2016

“What we call wildness is a civilization other than our own.”                   Henry David Thoreau – 1859

I came across this quote the other day and have been giving it some thought.  When I go to the Boundary Waters I often associate the BWCA with the government that created it.  Thus, I have never really thought about the Boundary Waters as a civilization other than our own.  Instead, I have looked at it as an extension of our own civilization.

Civilization can be defined as the society, culture and way of life of a particular area.  So let’s think about some of the society, culture and ways of life in the Boundary Waters.  First, there are no permanent human residents in the Boundary Waters.  Thus, this civilization is one of flora and fauna, of water and rock, of sky and stars, and finally human visitors.  From this perspective, the Boundary Waters is indeed a civilization other than our own.  In fact, it is almost the opposite of the civilization where we reside on a daily basis.

It is this uniqueness of the Boundary Waters civilization that makes it such a wonderful place to travel to and through.  In going to the Boundary Waters, we place ourselves in a civilization that is far removed from our daily experiences.

Benefits of Traveling to the Boundary Waters

Lifehack.org posted a list of 9 Benefits of Traveling which I think all apply to a trip to the Boundary Waters.

  1. You’ll find a new purpose.
  2. You’ll appreciate your home more.
  3. You’ll realize that your home is more than just where you grew up.
  4. You’ll realize how little you actually knew about the world.
  5. You’ll realize that we all share similar needs.
  6. You’ll realize that it is extremely easy to make friends.
  7. You’ll experience the interconnectedness of humanity.
  8. You’ll experience serendipity and synchronicity.
  9. You’ll realize life is a wonderful gift.

Thoreau was right about the wildness of the Boundary Waters being a civilization other than our own.  Come and experience this civilization.  The benefits will be many.

Paddle On.  Be Free.