Bringing a Little Wild to the City

David Sasaki
10 min readJan 27, 2020

With this essay, I hope to resolve two related questions that I’ve struggled with throughout my 30s. First, why do I feel so much more authentically me when I’m in nature, even though I choose to spend 97% of my time in cities? Why do I become more observant, appreciative, and relaxed when I’m in the forest, outside of civilization? Is the same true for others? The second question: What do I think about capitalism? What are my environmental politics? Do I think that the current pace of technological innovation and wealth creation is a good thing? Or would we all be happier if we returned to simpler lives more closely connected to nature?

These are not new questions, I realize. Rousseau pondered the same questions in his Reveries of a Solitary Walker, step by step across a rapidly industrializing, 18th-century Europe. And they are the same questions that a 20-something Henry David Thoreau asked himself at Walden Pond when he wrote, “my greatest skill has been to want but little” and that “we can never have enough of nature.” Surely, ever since humans decided to settle in cities some 12,000 years ago, skeptics have pondered whether it was the right move. It is a question that deserves to be revisited with each new generation as the machine of capitalism advances along with the machines themselves. What follows is my attempt.

Pablo descending Buchanan Pass

Pablo and I had just hiked over Buchanan Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park, our bodies leaning slightly forward into the dry wind rising from the valley spread out beneath us. We snapped a few photos of the shiny, dripping ice that makes up the last of the disappearing Saint Vrain Glaciers to our right; it will surely melt into the rocky morass it sits atop over the next decade. And then, the steepest ascent now behind us, we ambled down the trail with our thumbs tucked comfortably behind the straps of our backpacks.

I was overcome by a sense of calmness that I hadn’t experienced in months. I can more easily describe the sensation by what it lacked than how it felt. All anxiety had dissolved. Nowhere in the back of my mind, for example, did I wonder if I may have offended someone. There were no contradictions for my…

David Sasaki

Mostly ill-formed reflections to figure out what I think myself. Occasionally a fully formed essay with strong opinions, loosely held.