Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Father Of The National Parks

John Muir was the guardian of the American wilderness.

It’s thanks to Muir that many of mother nature’s marvels, like Yosemite Valley, were left untouched by the lumberjack’s axe.

Unable to defend Mother Earth on his own, he relied on words to fire up others to rally behind his nature-loving banner.

Naturally, John grew into quite the wordsmith.

Once, when asked about hiking, the ecologist burst out:

“People ought to saunter in the mountains—not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, “A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

While I dig his attitude, Muir’s words come across as telling.

And most people don’t like being told what to think—even if the instruction will cultivate a finer way of living—because we instinctively value our own opinion the most.

What’s more, if a gate-crasher cooly steamrolls our beliefs, why would we respect his ideas? Outside of the kindness in our hearts, there’s no reason to honor unsolicited advice.

While John spoke these forceful words in good company, much of his fiery tone still burns inside his prose.

And I can’t help but wonder if the tree herder could have protected more of the Americas if he didn’t rain fire upon his audience, but instead glorified his love for the wild.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach