Image of The Little Prince and the fox, from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I’d like to share some personal reflections inspired by a recent weekend bushcraft/camping adventure that still leaves me with far more to explore, and indeed wanting more…adventure, wilderness, realness – freedom. Enjoy:-)
Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence? – JOHN MUIR
It was a reconnection with innocence. I don’t mean childish or naïve or sweet – I simply mean authentically unadorned; the kind of wild, untamed innocence that knows it is timelessly and irrevocably at one with, and originated from, the very elements and other forms of life that surround it. The kind of innocence that looks neither forward nor back because the only truth is now, this moment, in which we are alive, the fire’s flickering, the potatoes taste slightly burnt and adults and children are dancing around the fire, chanting and laughing with sheer raw joy.
So what was the emotion that rose in me like a monster when we left, at once exultant and enraged?
One voice was saying, ‘This isn’t real. Come on, you couldn’t live like this day in day out, nobody would choose that. It would be hard work, miserable.”
But another voice was singing, “Oh, My God, that was me! That’s what it’s all about. That’s what I need to remember; remain humble and love, treat the whole earth as my home – not just one walled off doored off part of it. For a while I’ve been awake again, and the joy and wonder of that is so strong it overwhelms me.”
It was a taste of freedom; joyous, wild, risky, wonder-full freedom. Why now, unforced (perhaps) and consciously (really?) was I about to lock myself away in captivity again? There’s the rub; the pain and the curiosity and the question. Why would I do that to myself? Why would I support a system that does that to others? There is grief in seeing my bondage for what it is – chosen and self-inflicted.
I remember a quote from The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
“I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you…”
With taming comes responsibility, because once tamed it is hard for the tamed one to survive again in the wild. When looked at through the lens of my own experience and values this translates thus:
In order to be free I must once again take full responsibility for myself and my own experience. I must make nobody responsible for me because, in so doing, I shrink my own strength and I tell life/God that I do not trust – that I need comfort, safety, a backup plan.
Having explored and outlined the extremes, can I find the sacred aliveness of that meeting place of middle ground? Can I remain free and wild and authentic, and allow my heart to engage with others and this world deeply, rawly, fearlessly, staying always aware that I want to give and receive space and dares, not walls and promises, because promises are often broken and walls fall down, but love is something much wilder and more resilient, therefore in all my relationships with other people, other sentient beings, the natural world, let me not tame or be tamed.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
– MARY OLIVER
On the same theme, I’ve also very much enjoyed reading the following recently:
A poem by Tom Hirons, Sometime A Wild God
A book by Cheryl Strayed, Wild – a Journey from Lost to Found