What is Greatness?


What is true greatness?

Being a teacher, a fireman, a soldier. A forgiver, peacemaker. Being the man who saved our forests, valleys, mountains. Kept  the wilderness wild.

A man like John Muir.


A recent visit to Yosemite National Park reacquainted me with the story of John Muir, much of which I had forgotten. He is the man who fought to place our national parks under federal protection, the man who gave us Yosemite, Yellowstone, and many more.

The grandfather of the American National Parks — hundreds of acres of natural beauty forever preserved.

Such a human mystery, isn’t it? In a world filled with death and destruction and those bent on destroying, we get a man like Muir once in a while. Someone who dedicated his life to protecting our mountains and forests and wild life from exploitation and made them our inheritance.

John Muir didn’t always win. Much as he tried. He lost his last battle, when he failed to have Hetch Hetchy Valley, just outside Yosemite, placed under federal protection. The loss was too much to bear for America’s most famous naturalist. He died a year after the valley was dammed for a reservoir, in 1913, at the age of 76. 

John Muir

While he died a disappointed man, Muir left behind countless of natural treasures and inspired us to look under the surface, to “climb the mountains and get their good tidings.”  


“In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.” ~~ John Muir.


“Yosemite … is a place of transcendent beauty in the middle of what John Muir called the “Range of Light.” … Stirred by the music of Yosemite’s moving waters, the majesty of its granite faces, the lushness of its forests and meadows, the abundance of its animal life, the radiance of its mountain air, we remember how securely we are woven into this web of life we are.”

~~ Lorraine Anderson, in Yosemite Meditations


Images courtesy: http://www.na-sd.com, pbs.org, buenaparklibrary





15 responses to “What is Greatness?

  1. Would love to visit there one day. It looks beautiful.

  2. Muir was a good man… well-intentioned and one who walked his walk. He lived humbly and his legacy is favorable. To your post’s focus, I believe we each have degrees of greatness within us. And the lens through which you see and define greatness, may well differ from that of others. This uniqueness is what makes us (humanity) great. :)

  3. One of my friends on FB just posted some pics from the Muir National Forest in CA. I guess it was named in honor of the same man. Some very tall and beautiful trees there . . .

  4. I have a friend who goes to Yosemite twice a year to renew her spirits. I found Muir Woods to be a transcendental place! Blessings on John Muir!

  5. We’re lucky to have him and others like him. Thanks for the reminder, Silvia!

  6. John Muir was a special being, and the Yosemite that he preserved for our children’s children is incredible. – Fawn

  7. Silvia – Yosemite and Muir Woods and Mt. Tamalpais are all very special places to me for the times in my life when I experienced them and the people who have shared them with me. We are truly blessed that John Muir worked to preserve such an important part of our country.

    I am glad you featured him.

    I hate knowing that part of Yosemite is on fire and pray the Sequoias are spared.

  8. My great grandfather, Judge James Andrew Waymire backed the Hetch Hetchy project too and lost all of his money to the state of California because the Bond failed. See read the Greening of Paradise Valley. Also there is a museum in Modesto that talks about this and my great grandfather. Fun read! Thanks.

  9. At least he was able to get Yosemite preserved. Even though people still try to screw that up.

  10. Kudos and blessings to all who preserve Mother Nature and know the value of our planet. I’ve heard of John Muir and love the quote: “In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks.” ~~ John Muir.

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