Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed ... We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.— Wallace Stegner
The most astounding Wallace Stegner quotes that are little-known but priceless
We are the most dangerous species of life on the planet, and every other species, even the earth itself, has cause to fear our power to exterminate. But we are also the only species which, when it chooses to do so, will go to great effort to save what it might destroy.
National parks are the best idea we ever had.
Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.
We simply need that wild country available to us.
.. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.
Be proud of every scar on your heart, each one holds a lifetime's worth of lessons.
One cannot be pessimistic about the West.
This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.
[Friendship] is a relationship that has no formal shape, there are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or the family, it is held together by neither law nor property nor blood, there is no glue in it but mutual liking. It is therefore rare.
You have to get over the color green;
you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns; you have to get used to an inhuman scale; you have to understand geological time.
Be proud of every scar on your heart, each one holds a lifetime’s worth of lessons.
I gave my heart to the mountains the minute I stood beside this river with its spray in my face and watched it thunder into foam, smooth to green glass over sunken rocks, shatter to foam again. I was fascinated by how it sped by and yet was always there; its roar shook both the earth and me.
Every green natural place we save saves a fragment of our sanity and gives us a little more hope that we have a future.
It should not be denied... that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led West.
Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.
American individualism, much celebrated and cherished, has developed without its essential corrective, which is belonging.
Most things break, including hearts. The lessons of life amount not to wisdom, but to scar tissue and callus.
If the national park is, as Lord Bryce suggested, the best idea America has ever had, wilderness preservation is the highest refinement of that idea.
wherever you find the greatest good, you will find the greatest evil, because evil loves paradise as much as good.
It is love and friendship, the sanctity and celebration of our relationships, that not only support a good life, but create one. Through friendships, we spark and inspire one another's ambitions.
Largeness is a lifelong matter. You grow because you are not content not to. You are like a beaver that chews constantly because if it doesn't, it's teeth grow long and lock. You grow because you are a grower; you're large because you can't stand to be small.
It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which rules you want to live by, and it's persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any.
Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed ... so that never again can we have the chance to see ourselves single, separate, vertical and individual in the world, part of the environment of trees and rocks and soil, part of the natural world and competent to belong in it.
If you're going to get old, you might as well get as old as you can get.
The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation.
The West is less a place than a process.
Water is the true wealth in a dry land.
We are the only species which, when it chooses to do so, will go to great effort to save what it might destroy.
A teacher enlarges people in all sorts of ways besides just his subject matter.
There it was, there it is, the place where during the best time of our lives friendship had its home and happiness its headquarters.
If you avoid the killer diseases and keep the degenerative ones under control with sensible diet and exercise and whatever chemotherapy you need to stay in balance, you can live nearly forever.
[T]hat old September feeling, left over from school days, of summer passing, vacation nearly done, obligations gathering, books and football in the air ... Another fall, another turned page: there was something of jubilee in that annual autumnal beginning, as if last year's mistakes had been wiped clean by summer.
Every book that anyone sets out on is a voyage of discovery that may discover nothing. Any voyager may be lost at sea, like John Cabot. Nobody can teach the geography of the undiscovered. All he can do is encourge the will to explore, plus impress upon the inexperienced a few of the dos and don'ts of voyaging.
Is that the basis of friendship? Is it as reactive as that? Do we respond only to people who seem to find us interesting?... Do we all buzz or ring or light up when people press our vanity buttons, and only then? Can I think of anyone in my whole life whom I have liked without his first showing signs of liking me?
No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments. Fictions serve as well as facts.
How much wilderness do the wilderness-lovers want? ask those who would mine and dig and cut and dam in such sanctuary spots as these. The answer is easy: Enough so that there will be in the years ahead a little relief, a little quiet, a little relaxation, for any of our increasing millions who need and want it.
Thanks to the growing strength of environmental organizations, there will always be some back country to provide us with a touch of wonder and a breath of fresh air.
After a day and a half or so the traveler will realize that crossing the continent by Interstate he gets to know the country about as well as a cable messenger knows the sea bottom.
[I]t is dangerous for a bride to be apologetic about her husband.
Expose a child to a particular environment at this susceptible time and he will perceive in the shapes of that environment until he dies.
One means of sanity is to retain a hold on the natural world, .
.. Americans still have that chance, more than many peoples.
Salt is added to dried rose petals with the perfume and spices, when we store them away in covered jars, the summers of our past.
Creation is a knack which is empowered by practice, and like almost any skill, it is lost if you don't practice it.
To try to save for everyone, for the hostile and independent as well as the committed, some of the health that flows down across the green ridges from the skyline, and some of the beauty and spirit that are still available to any resident of the valley who has a moment and the wit to lift up his eyes unto the hills.
I was shaped by the west and have lived most of my life in it, and nothing would gratify me more than to see it in all its subregions and subcultures both prosperous and environmentally healthy, with a civilization to match its scenery.
We made plenty of mistakes, but we never tripped anybody to gain an advantage, or took illegal shortcuts when no judge was around. We have all jogged and panted it out the whole way.
Faith can reclaim deserts as well as move mountains.
A writer is an organism that will go on writing even after its heart has been cut out.
Young writers should be encouraged to write, and discouraged from thinking they are writers.
You married me...but you didn't marry what you could make out of me.
Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.
it is an easy mistake to think that non-talkers are non-feelers.
I wonder if ever again Americans can have that experience of returning to a home place so intimately known, profoundly felt, deeply loved, and absolutely submitted to? It is not quite true that you can't go home again. I have done it, coming back here. But it gets less likely. We have had too many divorces, we have consumed too much transportation, we have lived too shallowly in too many places.
You'll do what you think you want to do, or what you think you ought to do.
If you're very lucky, luckier than anybody I know, the two will coincide.