The signals have been clear for a while now. Years. This is one of the most important things we can do in our overly sanitized, regimented, domesticated world.
This is the wordless impulse that drives me ever further into the waves, the mountains, the physical and spiritual frontiers of the man-made. That galvanizes me to push the limits of my body, break past the boundaries of my known experience. This is the imprecise call that sent me on a vision quest, on an 800-kilometer trek across Spain, and next on a week-long journey into the wilderness of northern Greece.
There is a song; I believe we all know it, whether we recognize it or not. It sounds like the sun on pine trees and tastes like bold green and smells like an almost-forgotten dream. It instructs us to seek wildness.
Every so often, I try to do its bidding.
If you have the slightest interest in eco-restoration or rewilding, I highly recommend a book by environmental writer George Monbiot called Feral. In it, he imagines a world—perhaps utopic, but nonetheless exhilarating—which is not free of humans, but free of human arrogance. In this world, elephants and lions, wolves and bears once again roam their natural habitats in Europe. In this world, human beings have relinquished the delusion of mastery and allowed a far wiser, far older system of order to reestablish.
In that world, we wouldn’t need to seek out wild places, because they would exist in abundance. Perhaps the same would be true of our internal landscapes…
In the meantime, however, it is not always so easy to immerse in wildness. That is why I am traveling to the mythic, mystical island of Samothraki to participate in a Wild Wandering School run by my good friend Casparo Brown.
There I hope to learn a few more of the words to the wild song that so enchants me.
But I’m not writing this post out of self-congratulatory narcissism (that’s what mirrors are for). I am writing in the hope that you will stop, for a moment, and listen.
That song—the one that sounds like pine and tastes like green and smells like a lost past… you don’t have to travel so far to hear it. Sure, the wild places in our world are harder and harder to reach, but the ones within haven’t gone anywhere.
I hear that wild song in un-self-conscious dance. In play. In getting lost. In risk. In fear. In hunger. In wonder.
If you listen, maybe you will hear it too.
Put down the screens, the structure, and the insipid sterility for a minute and close your eyes. Underneath the rules ripples a harmony far wiser, far older than you or me.
If you listen, maybe you will hear it.