I was posed this question at a wedding recently by one of the groomsmen. He was blown away by my paintings (which was kind of him to say.) He commented that the colour and movement in my paintings made the landscape really interesting to him, which was admittedly a novelty, because landscapes didn't interest him in his daily life.
He'd grown up in Montreal, and spoke of the city with passion and a light in his eyes that so obviously enjoyed that lifestyle. He loved what a city had to offer: its vibrancy, its food, the people, etc. He was a city man through and through who now found himself living on Vancouver Island, where it seemed like everyone he'd met there so far preferred to go do activities in the great outdoors. This wasn't his area of interest, but his friends' enthusiasm was infectious, and making him curious.
So then he asks me this question, something along the lines of, "So what's the big deal about these places that you paint? Why do people like the wilderness?"
Standing there in my fancy dress, I knew that I knew the answer. It was on the tip of my tongue. But I blinked, blankly, because I'd never taken the time to think it all the way through before. Consequently my mind was flooded by too many simultaneous answers that were all equally relevant, but didn't get straight to the point. I wanted to phrase it in a way that would be understood by someone who admittedly didn’t get it (yet).
I think the bottom line is that it's fun. Type 2 fun. But enjoyable none the less. And ultimately it just feels good to get out there. The Natural world, the untouched landscapes we live in and alongside here in BC are just so gosh darn beautiful. And they can be playgrounds for adventure for you and your buddies.
Personally, when I'm out there it's one of few times when I feel wide awake. I suspect that I'm wired that way, since I find an actual city and being surrounded by too many people overstimulating and anxiety provoking. Plus, the skills, actions, and instincts that come in handy in the great outdoors come more naturally to me than in other settings.
And frankly, if I'm in a city for too long I simply get bored. The experience of living becomes dull and uninspiring. Retreating into the mountains, or up the coast, fires up my imagination. My adventures recharge my emotional enthusiasm to live my own life with gusto. They're the places where I remember what my dreams and ambitions are. Where I find clarity on what's a priority for me and what's not. And ultimately, where I feel the most like my authentic self once again.
So as a city woman (technically at least), I guess I would say that feeling re-rooted in who I am with a clear purpose of what I want to accomplish with my life is the boon that I get to bring back with me from those trips into the wilderness, to then be integrate into and revitalize my daily suburban life.
For anyone genuinely curious, I found this documentary by Nikola “Tesla” Horvat to be interesting. It's a love letter to thru-hiking!