It came across in a Facebook message while I was working on this issue of the magazine: LOVE LOUDER. It was a simple, powerful illustration from my friend Jeremy Collins, who is a master of simple, powerful images (and often sends me random Facebook messages). My response: “Yes! That’s it exactly.”
If you don’t know Jer or his work, you should. I’m certainly a fanboy. He’s a unique voice in the outdoor world, a talented climber who is also an innovative artist. His lifestyle brand, Meridian Line (see page 32), features his drawings and engages in sustainable and made-in-the-USA practices. He provided illustrations for Rock and Ice magazine for years, but his work goes beyond magazine editorial: He’s found a way to combine both his passions, for peaks and for illustration, into art that speaks in a deeper way about how we relate to the natural world with all the soul-soaked tradition of Muir and Abbey as well as an understanding of the unique perspecives of 21st century life.
His film “Drawn,” which dealt with celebrating the life of our mutual friend Jonny Copp, and dealing with his loss in an avalanche in 2009, brought all that creativity together into a story that proved we can create real art about this outdoor experience. It does not have to be all endless marketing catalog copy and my-life-is-the-best Instagram posts and top ten lists. There is so much more depth in this experience.
I also conisder Jeremy to be a collaborator, along with so many others in the outdoor industry, in my own quest to find a way to build a better world through what we can experience in the outdoors, in wilderness. Out on the trail, the noise of modern life fades pretty fast, not just the buzz of electronics, but, more so, the constant screaming of a planet full of people at each others’ throats.
Love Louder. In a summer full of political ranting at every corner, of self-righteous polarization, of protests and mass murders, of police shootings and police being shot, of all of our human dialogue feeling as if it were being reduced to nothing more than shouting at each other, Love Louder made sense to me. Jer was initially worried about the term: There are too many loud voices out there already. Love should not be another argument. But if we resist the temptation to shout, can we maybe speak about understanding rather than constantly turning up the volume? Shouting is easy. Compassion, understanding, staying above the fray? That’s difficult. Love Louder may not be the final slogan of this campaign that Jer and I and so many others are on, but it certainly is a start.
We find this love in the stillness of the wild. It’s a source for that ability to return to the noise of our human world and remain calm and hopeful. I know I want to share that with more people, to climb and simply, quietly Love Louder so that everyone will hear.