I’m drawn to rivers and adventures, mud, messy hair and campfires under ink black skies, just as easily as I appreciate high rises and the beautiful buzz of technology. I could spend mornings in silence, drinking black coffee cold-brewed crudely from a tent-front, and afternoons exploring riverbeds and taming wild things. Just as easily as I could throw on a silk black dress and paint the town.
I love both. I need both. The awayness and reviving way of the wilderness and the nearness of modernity.
And I’m drawn to people who think differently, the brave. The ones who stay bright-eyed and kind even when their failures could fill rooms and their successes only palms. I’m drawn to people with big ideas, who ask me what I’m dreaming about. The ones who risk things. Like grey hair and tie-dye, or staying hopeful.
We live in exciting times. We really do.
Technology. Transportation. Innovation. New therapies and treatments for cancer. That humanity will never stop loving beauty, it’s too built into our DNA, so artists will always have a place. Cheap flights to Thailand. The whole buzz around organic foods and humanely treated animals. And then there are the 100 people vetted to colonise Mars (which I considered, googled, slept on, and decided I’d rather work for a while in Antarctica).
But amidst all of this living, these exciting times, have the scales tipped too heavily towards too much? Have we lost the ability to appreciate nothingness? As much as I’m drawn to rivers and adventures, and tie-dye and risking it all, if you looked at my calendar and in my closet would you find actual proof of my affinities? A pair of mud-caked boots? A backpack and a compass? Space without things or just price tags?
Rewilding, for me, is the art of figuring out the good and beautiful stuff. It’s going back to an alarm clock on my bedside table, it’s getting house plants and learning how to keep them alive. It’s being okay with fur on my pillows because animals are superhuman. It’s real food, and shopping the periphery of grocery stores and it’s farmer’s markets. It’s water, just plain ice water to drink. It’s saying no to York Peppermint Patties because they make my cells cry. It’s camping outside the city in the rain and going against the grain for the right reasons. It’s inviting my favourite baristas over for dinner. It’s swimming in the ocean, climbing trees, but also swinging from the vines in concrete jungles. It’s delicately moving snails off sidewalks after heavy downpours so they don’t get crushed.
It’s being really kind to myself and others.
Rewilding is being wild, again, for the right reasons. It’s deciding that I’m nobody else but me, and you’re nobody else but you, and that’s incredible. It’s Iris Apfel in all her colourful, grey glory. And it’s hospice workers and mothers and teachers. It’s believing that there are no prescriptions for how to do life, but there are heroes worth celebrating. It’s reducing my carbon footprint and recycling, and honouring my elders. Really stopping to listen to their wisdom, to appreciate their words and wrinkles, their histories and their big, bright futures.
It’s also not believing things that aren’t worth believing. Even if a lot of people believe those things and those people are convincing. This takes chutzpah and wildness. It’s not taking your doctor at face value and it’s listening to your instincts. It’s believing there’s always room for hope, even when the prognosis is grim on paper. It’s ripping up the paper.
It’s the marriage of science (really nerdy science with numbers and case studies and chemistry) and faith, with an emphasis on faith. And believing that there is more to life than life. That death was never meant to happen, but we will get swallowed up by life even when it does.
It’s realizing that we were built for more silence than we experience and more magic than we expect. Welcome to The Wildery, where all of this collides.