Friday, September 16, 2011


WHERE IS THE WILD?


"I love the wild not less than the good," said Henry, in the Higher Laws chapter of Walden, and "In wildness lies the preservation of the world." Henry was wild about wilderness, just couldn't stop talking about it one way or another, and who can blame him, he saw it disappearing.

But that was a long time ago, over 150 years now. The interesting thing is that even back then, when the wild must have still been pretty much all over the place, Henry was already condemning its decline, already lamenting the relentless incursion of the artifactual. His were admirable early sentiments, though they fell on mostly deaf ears in those times of righteous conviction in broadscale clearcutting of the greater soul. Walden wasn't a big success until the results of manifest destiny became manifest.

Despite that ongoing revelation, however, it seems we still haven't realized that the wild is more than just nature venues or camping grounds; in its fulness it is the counterpart, the balance, to the wild we carry in ourselves, in every cell and sinew of our bodies. Remove the wild from our outer lives and in our hearts and souls we suffer, our compass goes awry. All who still revere the wild know this, as Henry did; he recognized it as the greater part of the soul. So now, some 150 years later, where has it gone? Is it out on the lawn? On the hiking trail? In the Winnebago window, the satellite image, nature video, national park, endangered species, inner child, urban shaman, modern warrior, rabid zealot? Is it caught on the Net? Can it be seen with commuter eyes?

In our nowadays, with government keeping us anxious about government, business keeping us unbalanced and selling us the next step at apparent discount, the further we get from whatever wild there once was and the more we are isolated and channeled by the careers, fashions, incomes, appliances, habits, sciences, arts, rebellions, religions, schools of thought and mannered ways we think comprise us, the less we are the creatures of creation, one thrust of all the universe, and the more we are the static but remarkably lifelike exhibits in that big fancy museum of our own construction we call modern life.

Commensurately, the less informed we are by what is ever ongoing in the currents of the universe: the sun that is shining, tides that are flowing, moon rising, spiraling stars, galaxies whirling, blooms that are opening, seeds that are falling, scattering on all the winds and swelling with the rain; we are no longer fed by the wild, that in us is ferally fertile, and so do not germinate, let alone grow into what we were all engendered for, which is beyond dimension, in the seed of wildness.

Published in slightly different form in Kyoto Journal #62


7 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Great post!. Its so true we all are from the wild- ancestrally. We should learn from it... Its too bad global warming has been dismissed for a long time.. sad that its only looked upon when the trouble has gone on for years...

Robert Brady said...

Thanks, Kalei - Here's hoping we can re-emerge...

dion said...

Thoreau's line "in wildness lies the preservation of the world" is regularly misquoted as "in wilderness...". A semantic shift that radically alters the sentiment. Although quoted correctly I did think an uh-oh when I read your line "Henry was wild about wilderness..." but in reading further I was glad to read the acknowledgement of the wild that originates in us. Wilderness is a construct, like "nature" that serves to separate us from the rest of the community of life. Wildness is what connects us to the rest of the community. It is only by being true to the wildness in us that the world can be preserved. The future is feral. Civilizations have always been deeply flawed projects and the smart ones have abandoned them before things got really out of hand. So, we're a bit late but mutiny is still possible.

Robert Brady said...

In hope that true wisdom is accruing...

Victor said...

Very important words and ideas, that often fall on deaf ears.

MikeH said...

Kalei's Best Friend...Do you believe in Santa Clause too? Please prove global warming.

Robert Brady said...

MikeH- If there was as much scientific evidence for Santa Claus and his elves as there is for global warming, we'd all be writing christmas lists...