“Let freedom ring from the mountain tops…” was part of the speech made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. fifty years ago now. I had just returned from our annual canoe trip in Killarney Provincial Park and was driving home from work one day. I heard on the radio that it was fifty years ago today, that inspiring address was delivered to hundreds of thousands during the ‘Great March on Washington’.
My short film really has nothing to do with protests, injustice or racism. During the drive home, I was mulling over titles for the film I had yet to edit and when I heard Dr. King, speak those words, “let freedom ring from..” I had my title – Freedom!
That is what I experience when I am in the wilderness. Let me first explain that I do not consider myself to be oppressed – in fact, for the most part quite the opposite. In wilderness, I experience freedom from the influence of our society. I do not feel the pressures of conformity or hear of distant wars, inner city violence and backyard hatred. I also experience a bit of freedom from the internal chatter that usually invades my thoughts. The wilderness seems to have a way of quieting my mind so that I can hear that still, small voice I so long to hear.
There is freedom in sharing so intimately around a campfire with your loved ones. At home we all come together around the dinner table, but out here we all gather around the campfire. There is freedom to relax and unwind the tension you have coiled up for far to long. After a long day of fresh air, many activities, after a hot meal in your belly, listening to the chorus of crickets and watching the flames dance around the logs – the stage has been set, permission has been granted to breathe deep and settle in to a comfortable position around the warmth of the fire.
One activity we enjoy very much is swimming. My wife likes the challenge of swimming back and forth across the lakes. The kids and I prefer to throw ourselves off cliffs into the clear blue lakes of Killarney Provincial Park. We love the freedom we have to swim where ever and when ever we like. Every campsite is a great place to swim from. The shoreline is usually a large flat rock gently sloping into the water or a steep cliff face plunging straight down into the lake.
This trip to Killarney Provincial Park was new for us in a few ways. We travelled to a part of the park we had never seen – Johnnie Lake and Ruth Roy Lake. Both these lakes were more beautiful than I expected. Since this was our daughter’s (15 months old) first canoe trip, we planned only one small portage. I think she enjoyed the most freedom of us all – so many new things to see, taste, touch and smell. This trip was also our longest – 5 nights and 6 days, with the least amount of travel/portaging and the most amount of leisure and activity time. We even found time to play cards!
When we are in wilderness the freedom I experience is like having unrestricted use of all the resources around me. There are no line ups to jump off the cliff. There is no road rage or traffic jams out on the lakes. No one calls you at supper time to inquire about a survey or life insurance or something else you don’t want. The only one coming to your door step are chipmunks, birds, loons and various other local riffraff. Your neighbour lives down the lake so far that you don’t know they are there until you see their fire at night. What a beautiful place this is! What a beautiful place to be and experience with your family! “Let freedom ring…”