Wildness is the part of nature that is simultaneously outside of our collective skins and at the very core of us. I like to speak for wildness because, in my opinion, it’s not only an essential condition for healthy life on earth, it’s something that all too many of us try to hide or destroy. I try to live a life-style that embraces wildness and acknowledges that humans are merely one strand in the great web of being on this planet– an endless job while sparring with the iron gloves of civilization.
I could speak for wildness in the Adirondacks or the Catskill Mountains, for example. I could speak for wildness in our gardens, rivers, and dreams, or in that realm beyond the strictly human. What I’ve always found interesting is the idea that modern humankind, having managed to disrupt and eliminate so much of outward wilderness, has never quite managed to subdue or dominate the wildness that’s been carried in the psyche through the ages of evolution.
Modern humans are about 40-thousand years old, give or take a few millennium. For most of this time period, we have been hunter-gatherers, and for the last 10-thousand years or so, the focus of our species has been agriculture with a growing penchant for technology. We get swept up in the changes, and have a constant need for assessment of our actions.
When I’m looking for inspiration from the wild, I could go, perhaps, to the backwoods of Alaska or Brazil; I could find it in a textbook or on a computer screen or television; I could find it on a hike in Yellowstone or from a peek at the ruptured concrete of a sidewalk. For my dollar bill, however, there is no better teacher than direct experience out-of-doors.
Humans may labor exhaustively to buffer the wild with layers of technology, but the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer-fisherman with his spear-sharp senses will remain inside even the dullest of our species. We can blow ourselves into kingdom come, like chaff on the wind, but the seeds of wildness will remain, ready to renew the long journey into climax.
This may be a comforting thought, but it shouldn’t mean that we resign ourselves to a life of inactivity, politically speaking. Wilderness, or aspects of wild nature, can inspire us to create new works of art or knowledge that, in turn, can better our human condition and prolong a healthy environment.
My writings often reflect personal experience in the wild. I like to speak for the wildness to be found in fly-fishing, walking, and hiking, or in a myriad of other outdoor pursuits. Immersion in the big outdoors is healthy, of course, and we go there because the natural world inspires us to enter the fold from which we came.
I like to find poetry in the world and put it into words. I like to think that you, too, will continue to find more of the beauty in all things wild and to express your findings in a favored medium.
We have personal frameworks in the world of nature. If we’re able to step outside them for a brief spell, we get views aligning us with the history of our race and the hope of future days. The lands and waters speak directly and to the point. They speak the poetry of life.