Why do we seek the wild? Not just wild places in nature, but the wild inside; the wild parts of our world and ourselves.
The word wild evokes something alive. When one immerses themselves in the wild - on a mountain, in forests, under water, down a river, across the desert - away from the domesticated distractions of our lives that create a sensory overload, something magical happens. A person feels more alive. Everything is more vivid, the nights darker, the stars brighter, the sounds of creatures louder and more distinct, the beauty breathtaking.
Submerging myself in the wild restores me in a way nothing else can. Time slows down. I become more aware of my surroundings and myself. I often find myself feeling overwhelmingly small, suddenly aware of the vastness of wild places, the unknown and yet to be discovered. No place like the wild makes me more conscious of my own fragility, the rare combination of one’s own humanity and mortality as well as a feeling of ultimate empowerment for having the courage to bravely face the untamed.
In my twenty-five years on earth, I have experienced an increase in control in all aspects of my life. With the introduction of the iPhone into society, we can be reached anywhere, anytime. We can control the temperature in our homes from our phones while sitting at our desks. We can order ingredients for meals to be shipped to our door. We can track each other’s every move on social media. The wild shatters this illusion of control and reminds us that despite the cultivation of our lands and technology, humans are just another one of earth’s creatures living in a forever wild planet.
I spent this past weekend on the Island of Ocracoke, home to one of the most beautiful wild seashores left undeveloped. While I watched sunrises and sunsets unobstructed by humanity’s hand, I remembered why it is I go into the wild: to feel free. Watching the sea birds scamper in the salty white wash, the clouds creating jagged mountains across the horizon, the sun streaking the sky in pinky orange watercolors, I experience beauty in every breath.
“Especially in pursuit of pleasure” defines the word wild, implying more than the purely uncontrolled without a purpose. When I sat with my dog Smokey watching the sun sink into the endless sea stretching to meet the mountain of clouds, I felt access to my wild mind, the one that has become ever more tamed with each birthday and update on the iPhone, each advent of some new productivity app that wants us to use every available minute.
What happened to unplanned time? To time to wander. To get lost in the woods. To float down a river. To ride waves until the sun sets. To let the sky be your nightly screen, a wide and wonderful complex constellation of stories and the occasional surprise - a shooting star that only the patient eye glimpses.
When we tame our environments and tighten our schedules, we don’t just shut out the wild outside. We shut down the wild inside - that space where dreams flourish, where ideas grow from tiny seeds to towering trees, where creativity flows, where personal growth flourishes. It’s in the undeveloped natural world that I access my wild mind where my best ideas and self shines with an intensity akin to the first burst of the sun’s rays across the sky.
With the environmental crisis our world faces today, we also face what I call a creativity crisis. What will happen to the wild inside if we pave over and develop all the natural beauty in our worlds? We don’t just have our planets to protect; we have the wild in our hearts and minds to ensure stays free to continue to amaze and mimic the awe we experience in the natural world.
When was the last time you ventured into the wild? Have you tapped into the wild inside recently?
Our annual Into The Wild event is October 13th; an event we do every year with the Monti, a nonprofit that built community through the telling of stories. We gather under the stars at the Forest Theater and go into the wild together, hearing incredible stories from people like you. Pitch your story today to firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned for ticket sales going live later this week on the Monti events page!
Comment below with a memorable adventure into the wild and enter to win a FREE ticket to the Into the Wild event.