I could watch the waves all day. Something about the water, the flow in and out, the white crest, foamy feast at the shore.
And I am aware of the cruel nature of this foam that looks like child’s play. Earlier this summer, five surfers lost their lives, immersed in two meters of a freak foam storm in the waters in Holland. Even the strongest of lifeguards can’t win the fight against nature.
Two months prior, I myself stood at the edge of the shore in Northwest Ireland, dancing on the coastline of white spongy whitewash, the wind blowing at 90 kms, sending bubbles into the air, drifting for miles. It looked like snow; it looked pretty and innocent.
My heart goes out to those guys who found themselves in uncharted territory even though they knew that landscape like the back of their hands.
Storms can look gentle, but they can make humanity shed tears.
What is it about the wildness that we are attracted to? Why do people get drawn towards huge waves and lightning strikes?
If you tell me there’s a storm coming, I will gladly get in the car and drive to the edge to see if the waves are angry and to see if the sky is roaring in sync with the tide, to see if the seagulls and blackbirds can fly straight. What is it about being on the edge that excites us? Yet as humans, we tend to know our boundaries and survival instincts will tell us not to push too far over the edge. Being unlucky like those surfers is a different scenario altogether.
There is a wildness in us that is drawn towards the dramatics. Is it because it makes us feel alive, it is real, it sets our heart pumping and adrenaline fires up. Do we miss running with or from wolves and dancing in tribal circles? Is it because we know deep down that Instagram likes and other technological advances such as Zoom just can’t quite hit that mark, that level of aliveness?
We as beings of the land are drawn to adventure, and if we don’t seek it out and allow it to flow in, we can notice an emptiness, a loss, an unsettling. The animal in us is still called to fight or flight, to carry out animalistic rituals and basic needs.
We can become stimulated internally just by thinking about adventurous things, but sometimes it is not enough to be the armchair traveller of your life. Sometimes these experiences have to be felt on a physical level too in order to feel alive.
To be born into this world is the ultimate wild thing that could happen to us. Sex is one of the most animalistic event that humans carry out, along with eating, sleeping, and nurturing. How then could society strip us of our wildness, perhaps through brainwashing, pushing certains ideals and values, conditioning through imagery and messages. Imagine for a moment if we were stripped of the more recent technological advances. I am not against progression at all. In fact, it is fascinating that Henry Ford asked the people what they wanted and they answered faster horses but he granted us the wonder that is the car. But sometimes our progression can be our demise if we don’t take note of our animal brain, which doesn’t really recognise technology as a basic need or as a true adventure.
Imagine if we had to throw away all our phones and laptops tomorrow. They are on a subconscious level paving the way for a mental health pandemic. They are beginning to own us and not the other way around. They are owning our time, our pleasure, our thoughts, and even our relationships. They are having a stronghold on the order of our lives. Competition and comparison is rife in a world whereby compassion and community could thrive instead.
Give us 21 days without technology and phones and see if people rewild.
As someone born in the ‘80s, I travelled to and lived in many places abroad without a smartphone, and what happened then was a gathering of people, in real time, to play, to dance, to eat, to explore. There was tangible meetups and physical conversations; there was vulnerability and apprehension; there was excitement and adventure in real-time.
Real-time meaning something on a physical playing field, a place where instinctual energies could be felt, where gumption and guts was used to determine safety and risks, where intuition was the Google Maps and pleasure was measured by true human touch rather than the click of a screen.
This would happen naturally again if things were taken away. I have sat in Aboriginal camps listening to the elders playing clap sticks, wooden sticks used for rhythm in voice chants often used in ceremony. And I have never felt more alive when hitting two simple instruments together with wise elders. With a push to place western culture and values in the Aboriginal culture, street lamps replaced the storytelling time around campfires. We should learn from indigenous people of the land and not shove our choices in their face to weaken their link. We were once people of the land, and their stories could help reignite our fires. Sometimes we need to turn out the lights to be able to see clearly.
I have splashed around with playful seals in sharky waters, jumped from hay bale to hay bale, got caught in riptides, fell off horses, cut legs on wires trespassing in fields, slept outside listening to the animals, got bitten by dogs, and trusted complete strangers, and I have never felt more alive in those moments. So I ask the question: What is it that makes us feel alive? And I note to myself that money, jobs, or college grades don’t seem to hit the mark.
Isn’t it interesting that sunsets and lightning strikes could never get old and energize us, whereas Netflix and scrolling on the internet gets tired and can leave us drained? The initial high is replaced with a low, an unease.
There will always be unease if we are disconnected from the land, if we push towards individualistic behaviors rather than connectedness, if we are profiteering and domesticating, if we are unwilding and assaulting our source. Most problems, I believe, begin with day one of our unwilding initiation.
It is my core belief that this needs to flip, and the next initiation that needs to occur to balance our bodies and minds is rewilding.
Real joy will always be from things that connect your soul to the wild you. Getting 100% on a state exam doesn’t quite make you feel alive as much as a bird deciding to land on your shoulder, or meeting a fox eye-to-eye on a path, or surviving a huge wave onslaught and taking a breath in, or surrendering to a huge downpour that you get caught in, or letting the winds force hold you up.
This is freedom of the body and mind. This is heart and not head. This is aliveness and connection.
An exam puts us on a ladder with instructions suggesting that if you keep abiding by certain rules and climb up and up, you will reach fulfillment and completion. This is an illusion of what happiness is. For the ladder keeps getting higher and higher because happiness is not an end goal. It cannot be received by validation and examination. There is another ladder that is wrapped in wild flowers and laying across a gentle horizontal path with no end game, only a journey of constant exploration. That is the important ladder and one that you cannot fall from.
For how can you fall away from something that is deep rooted in our core. It is impossible. Wildness is us. It just needs to be reignited, rebirthed, realized. Remember that if you do fall from the ladder of so-called progression, the wild one will break your fall and balance you out again and make you come to your senses. It will also make you walk taller and straighter than ever before, with no judgment or hierarchy, only mentors and guidance, the ones with wisdom, the shamans of the land. This wisdom is there and available to us all.