Wildheart – Rewilding
“To get passionate, you’ve gotta get wild!” That’s my view when it comes to anything we care for or would fight to protect. A protestor who says, “Erm, excuse me, do you mind?” is never going to make the headlines. But a man who kills the psycho who points a gun at his child is sure to make the evening news. His animalistic rage is shocking but understandable. It’s sensational and – because of this – is likely to get noticed. Others may even empathise with his actions and form a ground swell of support.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that taking a human life is acceptable or encouraged. But what about the slow and barely noticeable murder that we’re complicit in? A suffocation we can blissfully ignore. A killing that’s been going on for thousands of years that we, collectively and individually, are making happen every day. It’s the ultimate crime, where life ends and we cease to exist. I’m talking about the loss of life on Earth; devastation caused by our actions.
Now, before you get defensive or turn away, I’m not suggesting that you join Greenpeace and strap yourself to an endangered dolphin. But I am getting passionate about something that matters. And it’s this: you matter. You matter to me. And – as friends – we matter to each other.
Human impact on our environment is well known. We’ve done huge and, in many cases, irreversible damage. Just by being here, we’re sucking oxygen from the air; and by our actions, we’re exploiting and destroying life on the planet. But we’re only doing what we do. Man, as the dominant specie, seeks to conquer and rule. We can’t resist putting our stamp on the place. (Not so? Ever decorated your home or mown your lawn? Hmmm…) We can’t resist trying to ‘better’ ourselves and the things around us, earning more money to buy disposable goods and superficial experiences that we don’t really need; wasting more than we ought; and being way too busy doing things that don’t matter. Take a closer look: by doing all this, we’re not just impacting the environment. We’re messing ourselves up, too. It’s time to resist our nature, and try to be more like the nature around us.
Our lifestyles, our hunger for more, our desire to grow, our insecurities and our pressures, are having mass consequences – on us.
In the UK alone, one in four people is suffering from mental illness at any one time. That’s 16 million people suffering from anxiety, depression and a whole lot more. And I’m one of them. I’ve suffered from depression for twenty-five years. But whenever I find myself in a dark place, I go and seek the light. I focus on what’s important, what’s meaningful, and what’s me. And when I’m there, I write a Journal.
If the planet’s on its knees, then we as a race are sprawled on the floor. As we lie there gasping, we have to acknowledge the obvious: that something’s fundamentally wrong with how we – as western society – ‘live’ our lives. We might constantly seek improvement, exploring the boundaries of what we can achieve, but often it leaves us empty. Constantly focusing outward, without also directing our gaze inward, can lead to a sense of meaningless. It’s a black hole waiting to implode.
The emptiness where our soul used to be; surely that’s where our passion should exist? Filling the void and making us strong again. The flame that burned white hot when, as a child, we jumped for joy? It must still be there? Our heart still beats. We are still alive? Maybe in some. Maybe not in others. Maybe we’ve progressed too far, falling from grace, and forgetting where we came from.
We once were wild creatures…
Modern Man evolved about 200,000 years ago, but it’s only in the past 12,000 years that we began to change our environment – farming plants and animals and establishing settlements that grew into towns and cities. This led us (and our environment) to becoming what we are today: tamed beasts in a circus parade, doing what we’ve been conditioned to do; because we’re governed, domesticated and pampered. We purr when we’re stroked, eat what we’re given, and do what our master commands. We live in cages of our own making. Our world is irreversibly different to that of our beginning. But as evolution goes, we’re still the infant trying to figure it all out. We’re still learning.
The Information Age is only fifty years old. That represents just 21 seconds in the day of Modern Man’s existence. No wonder we’re overwhelmed. All that speed, all that ‘instant information’. We’re being pushed from behind into the wind tunnel of change where we’re hit with a barrage of stimulus. There, fixed in the gale, we seek either to fight or flee the situation. Why? Because, as survivors, everything’s a threat until we know different. Or is it? Have we evolved to the point where life is so comfortable that few things are genuinely life threatening? Are we really living on the edge, or do our actions have predictable consequences? If this so, then anxiety is a redundant condition. But it’s not so. 25% of our population negatively affected by it. We know something is not right. It’s not right at all.
We evolved because we could adapt to change. We figured out how to survive. From continental drift and the colonisation of those new continents, we reacted and made our destiny. But the amount of potential stimulus we now face is disorientating, both enabling and debilitating us. There’s ‘virtually’ unlimited opportunity to learn, connect, speak out – and be monitored. We’re here, and there’s no going back. But we’re smart. The smartest on the planet. Smart enough to know that life’s journey is not all about ‘The Highway’.
Even if we’re happily travelling at speed, consuming all the information available, we can still glimpse the roadside verges and fields beyond.
We can choose where to seek our stimulus. We can choose where to look. We can choose how to act.
The brave ones among us, who remember our origins and still crave to be free, will slow down, take a different route or pull over altogether. They travel a more natural route, through the undergrowth of the obvious and close to the stream of life, to sustain their wild side. They seek the quiet places, the wild places, the forgotten places. Like ancestors of old, they seek to create fire. Fire within, the wild and untamed passion for natural things: a ‘rewilding’ of the human spirit.
Reconnecting to the world from where we emerged requires us to face our fears. Firstly to peel back the technical or urban cloak that society uses to ‘connect’ with itself. Then, when we are free and standing alone upon The Mountain, we might sit quietly and stare into the mists, to come eye to eye with the wolf within. Here we might see our greatness and our fears. The predator and the prey. Both together. Consuming each other. We hear the battle cries and the silence. And then, as the storm calms, we heal. Powered by the wonderment of the wild, fuelled by adventure and energised to explore the unknown, we reconnect with the natural world and remember who we are.
We are human, just a specie on this planet, seeking to survive.
Dare to be the one who lives, who keeps going, who knows what’s important, who fights to protect, who passionately roars and screams at those who would destroy our world; who knows their wild side, beats their chest and fights to be free. Dare to be from a different age.
Be natural and true. Have strength. Stare the wolf in the face, and be truly alive.
This is a sample chapter from The Quiet Fields, Fennel's Journal No. 7
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