Inner Wild: a place of uncultivated and untamed beauty; a region of unrestrained bliss; a place in the heart where one’s spirit can run free; pure unfettered expression.
There are pockets in our urban humanscapes, little areas of neglect where nature blooms. Roadside verges bursting with wild flowers, butterflies and frolicking bees. Blood red poppies burst forth on the edges of cultivated fields. Monoculture fringed by great biodiversity.
Walking through villages in France there are vacant lots in between well kept and carefully cultivated gardens – little forgotten plots reclaimed by nature filled with colour.
Some see weeds, I see an incredible celebration of the wild.
It takes a great amount of work to keep up appearances. Little cracks in the bitumen or a roothold in a wall become opportunities for nature to express itself.
These bursting forth patches of the untamed wild amongst the ordered homogeneity of our human environments remind us of our inner wild. Within all of us is a deep longing to run wild. To let go of the shackles of society that we have imposed upon ourselves.
We have a fear of the wild. We destroy forests, we create order, we have a need to understand and control every thing. What we don’t understand we fear.
With each step today I deeply felt the weight of history. Walking past war memorials dedicated to the people of little French villages who had lost their lives in the Great War, the war that was supposed to end all wars.
I felt a deep sense of sadness. I held back tears as I entered the village of Fresnicourt. For some reason it triggered something at first I couldn’t quite explain.
The name of the town must have triggered some deep seated memory. Maybe I had remembered reading about it in history class at school. I don’t know. Stopping at the war memorial in the centre of the village it became clearer what I was feeling.
The Fairies’ Table
As we pushed on we walked out of the village and on top of a hill we came across a prehistoric dolmen. A dolmen is a megalithic stone structure often consisting of two stone uprights with a large capstone. It is unclear why they were made but they are thought to be tombs or burial chambers. This structure was referred to by the local villagers as the Table des Fées or The Fairies’ Table.
Prehistoric cultures had a close and intimate connection with nature and their ‘wild side’. Myths and legends, fairies and goblins, grew out of the mystery of nature and things we didn’t understand. They were born of often agriculture cultures that began to separate themselves from nature seeing older animist cultures as mysterious and other. They seemed to control nature domesticating plants and animals.
Today coming across the dolmen was quite significant, as yesterday was the summer solstice. Ancient cultures celebrated this day, being the longest day of sunlight and the shortest night of darkness. The dolmen reminded me of these ancient ties to nature.
Walking Through History
Within just a couple of kilometres I had walked a piece of land that revealed much about the human habitation and history of this area and human nature.
I came to the conclusion that when we lose touch with our inner wild, when we fall victim to fear, our inner wild can express itself through ignorance, violence, hatred and revenge.
Prejudice, wars, witch hunts and genocide can happen when we lose touch, when we lose connection.
This land that I walked had seen many different peoples pass through it. Some settled and other peoples intermingled. The idea of a pure race, is based on ignorance and fear and many have used the power of fear to create war and division, that continues to this day.
The environment before the Great War was one of competing nationalism and increased fear leading to national alliances. These alliances were triggered like a domino effect with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, sending Europe into war, destruction and the massive loss of life.
Seeing the world as black and white, and the urge to create homogenous society creates destruction.
Society is uncomfortable with mystery, with the other, the unknown.
The other, the different provide convenient scapegoats to be weeded out. Moslems are labeled terrorists, blacks as violent, Jews as evil. History is replete with examples of propaganda, ignorance and fear leading to violence and genocide.
Biodiversity and Multiculturism
Within what others see as weeds growing amongst fallen masonry I see as a living microcosm of possibility.
These little worlds are breathing spaces that connect us to our true nature. A nature we try to forget by exorcsising the wild through creating order, rules, laws, conformity, homogeneity, cleanliness, sterility. We create cultures that confine us, conform us, deform us. Multiclturism is this wild reassertion of itself creating diversity and richness.
Where The Wild Things Are
There is great fecundity in these wild places.
A patch of earth left to its own devices can quickly turn into a meadow, or given time a forest. As we walked between Guinnes and Arras we passed reminders of France’s coal mining past. Great mountainous spoil heaps that to the untrained eye look like hills or conical volcanoes. Some of these spoil heaps have over time become completely forested.
Within each and every human being is a little patch of earth in one’s heart that holds onto and longs to expresss its inner wild. (Have you ever noticed that the word ‘heart’ and ‘earth’ are made of the same letters?)
Often all it takes is for a little crack to open up for the wild man or woman to be let free. Terminal illnesses, a death in the family, losing one’s job, deep depression or loss of connection, these are just some situations that can make us ‘crack’.
For me the crack was burn out. Running my own business, long hours, commitments, continual stress, deadlines, etc. took its toll. I had been ‘normal’ for too long.
I had planned to ‘take it easy’ this year, but realised that the only way that I could slow down was to close my business. The only way I felt I could make a clean cut was to literally leave the country!
I began researching my options of going wild. When my research saw me stumble upon the pilgrimage from London to Jerusalem I knew I had finally ‘cracked’.
For three whole days all I could think about and talk to my wife about was how crazy this 5 month pilgrimage was and how I had to do it!
When I was younger I backpacked through Asia and Europe with a cousin before heading off to the Middle East and India. The more I traveled the more I connected to my inner wild.
Exploration expanded my wildness. So much so that when a few years later I hitched around Papua New Guinea I felt totally free and connected to my inner wild.
Embracing Your Wild Side
I walked around with a rice bag, barefooted and bare chested, hitching in trucks laden with pigs and women with big billums overflowing with local vegetables going to the market. I would get off the back of a truck and within minutes have local villagers swarming around me inviting me to stay with them. Most of these villagers along the way had never knew of a European staying in their village.
With each step as I walked into the unknown I challenged fear with trust, I embraced the unknown, the untamed and let myself be lost in the wildness of possibility.
Bred To Be Mild
We are all born wild. We are through our upbringing taught to rein in our wild child. To behave. To conform. We are disciplined to exorcise our wild and become mild.
The wild child is disciplined. The unruly teenager is told to grow up. Wild becomes mild. The mild man is meant to follow rules. The mild woman cannot get in touch with her wild side lest she be labelled a slut or a bitch. Patriarchal societies had a way to dispatch of women who expressed themselves and upset the status quo, they were called witches and burnt at a stake.
Society has made us over-fed, fat, depressed and out of touch with our wild side. We have become domesticated and civilised.
Walk On The Wild Side
Do you feel that part of your heart calling you forth? Do you long for freedom and unconformity?
Do you long to say ‘to hell with it’ and take a chance, a leap of faith? Do you wish to just let go of your current exisstence and take that step into the unknown? Do you crave excitement and mystery?
Take The First Step
All it takes is just one step. Once you take that step and allow yourself to crack open you will discover a side of you that has always been there. It is this little patch of wild that threatens to overtake and fill your heart with great joy and abandon.
Call Of The Wild
Don’t believe those naysayers who wish to keep you bound. They may not understand you. Their fear may turn them into haters who despise themselves for not having the courage they see in you to heed your inner calling.
Those that talk of ‘being wild’ as having unrestrained violence and fury are referring to those that have the markings of someone who unconsciously lashes out operating from fear.
Yours can be a conscious decision to be free, to crack open your heart with great love for yourself, to connect with your wild self. To connect to the world and nature and people and life.
Please take that step. Walk through the meadow of wild flowers, loose yourself in the coolness of the forest. Also allow yourself to wander and be filled with wonderment. You were born to be wild and free. Reclaim your birth right. There are no guarantees in life – give up on that illusion. Please don’t wait another moment. It is time to embrace your inner wild. To nurture your wildness, to scream at the top of your lungs, to run like a banshee, to take your seat at the fairy’s table. To talk to the trees as the ancients once did. To experience the sun rising and the warmth it provides on your face, to experience the seasons, to look up at the stars and embrace the mystery of it all.