“The wilderness has the power to exert enormous influence on the mind of a man freshly arrived from civilization, especially if he lives alone and has but little contact with other people; some that I have known could not take the solitude, the absence of comfort and reassurance offered by the presence of other humans.
Such men have become effete in terms of personal survival in the face of natural challenges, the city is too much with them, and they don’t last. There are also those who go too far the other way, becoming misanthropes… these are the withdrawers, and they are found sprinkled loosely wherever there is a forest or a jungle, like seeds that have lost the ability to germinate in cultivated soil.
But between the quitters and the lone stayers, there is a third kind — indeed, there may be more than that, for all I know — in whom the wilderness acts as a catalyst and who, after they have experienced both the wild and the civilized, begin to form new values, to explore unknown pathways, and to realize that nature is an endlessly patient teacher with an infinite capacity to stimulate thought and to sharpen the hunger for knowledge. That is how the wilderness affected me…”
—R. D. Lawrence (1921–2003), The North Runner, 1979