Clark Fork High – Jessica Cope’s essay was judged best of 2011

Imagine. You’re hurrying down the street in the concrete jungle of  New York City. People are rushing by you on both sides. Cars are honking and the loud rumble from engines seems to be piercing your mind. You can’t hear, you can’t get to your meeting on time because there is a traffic jam, and the bustle makes you stressed out. Now let’s switch to another situation. Imagine you are in a quiet forest at the beginning of summer. You have decided to adventure into the woods for some peace and quiet. You can hear the birds chirping in the tall pines that shade you from the hot sun. It is so serene, that you can hear the snapping of branches as you venture further and further into the forest. You find a fallen tree to sit on as you marvel at the beauty of the colors and shapes that the wilderness holds true. Which scenario sounds better to you? Most likely, the latter sounds superior.

The wilderness has so much to teach the ‘civilized’ world. We, as human beings, can enjoy the wilderness and find peace and serenity there, learn patience, learn how to be still, and really learn how to listen to the earth. We live in such a marvelous place, that we often take for granted the beauty that surrounds us.

The wilderness can teach us peace and serenity. From the moment we are born, we have a need and want for peace. We could find this in our mother’s arms, but as we grew, we learned how to find it other places. The forest can teach peace. Everything in nature is in harmony with the earth. We can feel that in the wilderness. Naturally, nature brings peace to the human mind because it is where we belong.

Civilization is often hurried, and we are taught instant gratification. The wilderness teaches us patience. The whole idea of nature teaches patience. It takes a seed a long time to grow into a tree. Like this, we are taught that in nature we must be patient. There is no instant gratification, or aggravation. There is a patience that the wilderness teaches.

Last of all, the wilderness teaches civilization to be still and listen. A lot of the time, we are so wrapped up in our busy, stressful lives. We can’t see the forest through the trees and there is so much noise in our minds that we can’t focus on what is important. Personally, the wilderness has taught me how to just be still and let the worries of the world escape. After a couple days of camping in the wilderness, there are hardly any problems that you think about. This stillness can bring a peace into your life and give you a break from civilization.

If civilization learned these things from the wilderness, we would live in a society where there wasn’t as much stress, where people prioritized, and where we could listen to our hearts and minds without outside noise to distract us. We could learn peace, patience, and to be still and listen. The wilderness has so much to teach. If only civilization would listen.

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Categories: Blog
About The Author:

Sandy Compton has been program coordinator for Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness since 2009. He is also a storyteller and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, and the publisher at

In addition to his other duties, he runs the FSPW All Star Trail Team (, which works on Forest Service trails in the Scotchman Peaks. He is a trail surveyor as well, and a C-Certified Crosscut Bucker/Feller and USFS National Saw Policy OHLEC instructor.

Sandy grew up on a small farm/woodlot at the south end of the proposed wilderness and lives there still. He is also board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and a planning team member for the Northern Rockies Wilderness Skills Institute.

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