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Danger: Do Not Approach Wild Life

July 15, 2016

The sign made me pause,

Danger – Do Not Approach Wildlife

I knew I was misinterpreting it, but I couldn’t help but think of it as too strong a caution beyond the current setting. 

How many of us lead lives of quiet desperation? Thoreau said,

“The mass of men lead lives of quite desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console youself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” (Thoreau’s Walden)

I guess it’s not surprising to think of Thoreau when visiting Yellowstone National Park. He said,

“The West of which I speak is but another name for the Wild; and what I have been preparing to say is, that in Wildness is the preservation of the world.” (Thoreau’s essay Walking)

Thoreau would possibly take exception to a caution to avoid a “wild” life. To not only not embrace it, but to not approach it. 

We are made to attempt wild and desperate things. President John F. Kennedy said, 

“But why, some say, why the Moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” (Address at Rice University September 12, 1962)

I’ve tried hard things. I’ve moved across the country on a handshake, it nearly bankrupted me. I’ve flown to China to adopt a son. It has been a joy. I’ve loved and lost. I’ve loved and found I was loved back more than I can ever imagine. 

The point is that we are made to try, and in trying we will sometimes fail. For without a fear and a chance of failure, we aren’t really trying. Yoda had it wrong, 

Do, or don’t do. There is no try. 

Trying is what sets us apart. It gives us the chance to grow. We should not recklessly approach a wild life, but should certainly not avoid one. And of course, it is going to be hard. Everything worth achieving is. One of my favorite fictional baseball players was Jimmy Dugan, the manager in “A League Of Their Own.”

It’s supposed to be hard. The hard is what makes it great. If it wasn’t hard then everyone would do it.

My week in Yellowstone is drawing to a close. It’s been a truly magical time with my kids, my lovely wife, some relatives who happen to be good friends. It’s a time none of us will forget. And while the advice to not approach the “wildlife” was valuable and we paid attention to it, I hope none of us are ever so timid as to avoid approaching a wild life. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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