On this day in 1838 John Muir was born.
John Muir, a dedicated advocate for the protection of American wild lands, is born in Dunbar, Scotland.
When he was still a boy, Muir’s parents immigrated to the United States. He grew up on a farm in central Wisconsin in the 1850s, a time when the region was still a relatively wild western frontier. When he was 23, Muir left the family farm and traveled around the Midwest working in a variety of industrial jobs. A talented mechanic and inventor, he seemed to be headed for a successful career in the rapidly expanding industrial economy—but an accident changed Muir’s direction in life.
While working in an Indianapolis factory for wagon parts, Muir’s hand slipped, and a file he was using cut the cornea of his left eye. Not long after, his right eye also temporarily failed in a sympathetic reaction. Muir’s experience of being blind for several weeks led him to rethink his life plans. When he recovered his sight, he abandoned his career as a skilled mechanic and opted instead to embark on a 1,000-mile walking tour of the American West.
Without Muir, American thought about the preservation of wilderness lands would be very different. Some of us here at Think Thanks think he’s a hero – but he wouldn’t have become a historic figure if it hadn’t been for an accident that must have seemed tragic at the time.
Has there been something in your life that felt like a tragedy, or even a big disappointment, that helped change the direction of your life and now you can see that it was something for which you can feel grateful?
Are you feeling really grateful today for pancakes? Or something else?
Will you let us know about it in the comments?