Nature and wilderness was his priority. The force behind all that he came to be and his desire to cherish and protect this beautiful land. At the age of 29, Muir endured a very tragic eye injury in his right eye while trying to remove a machine belt with a file. In “Ophthalmic injury was turning point for John Muir…”, author Andrew W. Tharp writes about Muir’s eye injury and how it altered his life choices in affecting humanity. In the article, Tharp explains that shortly after the injury, Muir lost vision in both eyes and feared that he would never be able to see again. During this agonizing period of his life, he felt as though his life was wasted. He was tortured by the thought of not having lived his life in the way that made him most happy. In the article, Tharp explains that, “He described this time as tormented by nightmares with images of wasted life, writing, "My days were terrible beyond what I can tell and my nights were, if possible, even more terrible." He used these literal and metaphorical dark hours to examine his life, encountering recurrent visions of the Wisconsin
wilds he roamed as a boy.” To Muir, this was probably the worse things that could possibly happen to him. He was robbed of one of the things that he’d loved the most and had been taking for granted, his chance to see nature in all of its glory. His vision was gone without any indication of its departure and he was filled with a cloud of uncertainty of whether it would return. Luckily for him though, his vision did return a month later and he vowed that he would see the world’s natural wonders. To him, this was a second chance at life so he decided to quit his job and ventured off to walk a thousand miles from Indiana to the Gulf Coast. He stated that, “God has nearly to kill us sometimes, to teach us lessons”. and that he now wanted to explore, “the inventions of God”. ( “Ophthalmic injury was turning point for John Muir…”) Through these adventures he came to believe that nature deserved protection and he would be her saviour. When he reached the Gulf Coast, Muir caught Malaria and came to the conclusion that South America was not impractical and thus, decided that the United States was the place in which he was driven to explore. In Neil Oliver’s documentary entitled “John Muir”, Oliver talks about and revisits Muir’s adventures. In this documentary, Oliver stated that after Muir’s malaria encounter, he then set his sights on California’s Yosemite Valley and the Sierra Nevada where all his religious beliefs changed and he took on a new perspective on what was considered “living”.
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- John Muir, Yosemite National Park, Muir, Sierra Nevada