Together In Solitude

“Live Simply and All Will Go Well”


Sigurd F. Olson was a distinguished ecologist, wilderness conservation advocate, beloved author, and colleague of Jason’s grandpa who was a forester.  Right now Jason and I are reading Sig’s book, Reflections from the North Country, and loving it.  With chapters on Wholeness, Awareness, Aliveness, Freedom, Courage…etc, the book is inspiring to say the least.  Being a lover of good quotes, I’m jotting down Sig quotes constantly!  Here’s a little excerpt from the chapter entitled Simplicity:

“When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost.  Never indulge in arguments or recriminations; never criticize, but be of good cheer.”

He recalls the advice of Father Le Jeune to young Jesuit missionaries in preparation for an expedition in 1830:

“You should be prompt in embarking and disembarking.  Do not carry water or sand into the canoe.  It is not wise to ask too many questions, nor should you yield to the itch for making comments about the journey, a habit which may be cultivated to an excess.  Silence is a safe and discreet plenishing.  Should there be need of criticism, let it be conducted modestly.

In brief, it is well to be cheerful, or at any rate to appear so.  Everyone at portage should try to carry something according to his strength, be it only a kettle.  Do not begin paddling if you are not to continue paddling.  Stick to your place in the canoe.  Be assured if once you are set down as a troublemaker and a difficult person, you will not easily get rid of such a reputation.”

Exceptions aside, this timeless advice could be applied to any wilderness trip or life in general.

He nicely sums up the chapter in true Sig fashion:

“Keep your thoughts simple; do not be argumentative or meddlesome.  Do not hate, condemn or criticize; an expedition is too short for that, as is life.  Learn to live simply and all will go well.”

Follow by Email

2 thoughts on ““Live Simply and All Will Go Well”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.