“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
Last week my partner and I, along with our canine trio, enjoyed a small getaway to Vancouver Island to celebrate the completion of my 2 ½ year labour of love – the final manuscript for Unplug, the book.
We followed my own advice and unplugged on the island by enjoying autumn hikes in the mountains, in the rainforest and along the beaches. On a spontaneous whim, we ventured over to Tofino for a day of exploration by the vast open ocean and expansive beaches of the unprotected Pacific.
For readers who are unfamiliar with this part of the world, Tofino is located along the extreme west coast of Vancouver Island. It’s isolated, dangerous (tsunami warning signs frequent the roadways), and stunning in its wild, untamed beauty.
After many glorious hours strolling barefoot in the sand, playing with the dogs and picnicking by the ocean, we decided it was time to pack up and explore elsewhere. Our next destination would be Ucluelet, a sleepy coastal town on the southern end of this sparsely inhabited west coast paradise. Admittedly, we were all feeling a little fatigued from our day in the sun, but because we’d decided to stay only for the day, we were curious to explore more.
Driving through Ucluelet, I happened on what appeared to be a beautiful hiking spot – the Wild Pacific Trail. I was intrigued. My partner was reluctant to do more hiking, but I have a knack for being rather persuasive when I feel the urge.
We parked the car, released the pups and ventured forth. Within moments, I felt a powerful surge of energy that caught me off guard. An energetic current ran through my body igniting feelings of…wildness! I was no longer feeling sleepy. Instead, I was feeling turbo-charged with excitement. We continued along the trail until we came upon a magnificent ocean lookout. The rush I felt was indescribable. The rocky coastline and pounding ocean waves were utterly breathtaking in their wild beauty. My soul was on fire.
We noticed an interpretive sign along the path that informed us that we were overlooking a section of the Graveyard of the Pacific, a dangerous stretch of the Pacific Northwest that takes no prisoners. From Tillamook Bay along the Oregon Coast to Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island, this section of coastal water has been the cause of a significant number of shipwrecks over the years. Something about this knowledge charged me yet again.
I then realized, that through the untamed energy of this magical, uncompromising place, I’d plugged into my own inner wild. It was electrifying!
This sparked a more expansive mode of critical thought. Why did wild feel so energizing…so natural…so right? I pondered life in the 21st Century and realized the stark reality of what we, as a human species, have allowed ourselves to become: tamed…domesticated. This got me thinking about the repercussions of our cultural domestication. I realized the significance of how the suppression of our wild instincts has caused so much harm to ourselves and the planet. At its simplest, the purpose of domestication is the creation of dependency. Domesticated animals and plants cannot survive without human assistance. Domesticated humans form a dominant status quo and become dependent on the systems of thought that they’re conditioned into. Domestication is a type of slavery that makes compliance a shoo-in. Pretty nasty dont’cha think?
(Note: When I speak of domestication, I speak of the process that involves conditioning the natural instincts (wildness) out of living beings, be they plant, animal, or human).
When I think of the animals in my home, the dogs and cats who I share my life with, I’m deeply grateful for their presence. Yet, at the same time, I’m profoundly aware of the serious problems that have been created through the domestication process. With millions of companion animals needlessly killed every year for lack of loving homes, can we not see the grim reality of what we’ve done?
The same applies to the domestication of animals considered “food”. Because of the collective appetite for the flesh and secretions of mammals and sea life, trillions of animals are engineered and killed every year for the sole purpose of belief-induced habit. This monster of an issue and all of its fallout, such as climate change, dying oceans, obesity, and heart disease, would likely be non-issues had we not domesticated these animals in the first place.
When we think of plants, domestication has created pesticide laden crops, radically altered fruits and vegetables, and genetically modified organisms. Yes, organic exists, but in a dramatically altered, domesticated planet where irresponsible agricultural practices have caused the depletion of nutrient rich soil, we must ask ourselves, is the best that we can do?
Over several thousand years, domestication has caused a major shift in worldview. No longer is land available for everyone (the way it should be), it is now plundered, pillaged, commoditized, sold off in chunks, and taxed by governments. As a result, the once wild landscape has been radically altered by intensive agriculture, sprawling suburbs, clearcuts, highways, skyscrapers, landfills, and cities. The human mark on the natural environment has taken a heavy toll on planet Earth.
Not only are animals and the natural environment affected by our domestication, but we ourselves are affected by our very own domestication.
Think about your childhood. For many of us, we felt the most wild and free in our early years – before we were “shushed” by our parents, conditioned by religion, education, and media, and taught to conform to cultural expectations. Go to school. Get a job. Support the system. Get married. Have kids. Save money. Retire. And then you die.
Oh ya, and make sure to not ask questions along the way.
We’re domesticated by systems of thought that ensure that we don’t think for ourselves. Because of this, we’ve strayed far off course and lost connection with our instincts, our intuition, our spontaneity, our creativity, our courage, compassion, and passion. We’ve suppressed the vitality of our essence – our life-force. We’ve separated from animals, nature, and our souls. We’ve disconnected from the moral compass of our hearts and as a result, our choices, behaviours and actions are driven by fear and obligation. We tend to be more concerned about what we think others are thinking of us rather than being who we authentically are – warts and all. We’ve lost our wildness – our autonomy – our authentic selves.
I believe that if we were to design an environment that would be most harmful to the health of our minds, bodies, souls, and planet, it would look exactly like our modern world. We’re completely cut off from nature and are forced to live in overpriced toxic boxes. We stagnate in chairs as our bodies and minds atrophy from staring at artificial light sources for hours on end. In bizarre isolation, we chat with virtual “friends” to distract us from what really matters. We breathe polluted air, drink chemically-laden water, eat poison-filled “food” with ingredients that we can’t even pronounce. We fill our bodies with the chemical signatures of fear, suffering and violence with every piece of flesh, egg, and dairy that we place into our mouths. Our pillows, mattresses and clothing are soaked in flame retardants absorbed through the fragility of our skin. Our modern furniture off-gasses toxic fumes as we “clean” it with lemon-scented poison. We mold our hair with glues and waxes, paint our faces with petroleum-based cosmetics, and drench ourselves in hormone-disrupting, retch-inducing colognes and perfumes. Nuclear isotopes are released into the water and air as EMF radiation is blasted in every direction. And to top it all off, more than half a million pieces of man-made space junk orbit our Earth.
And we call this normal. Welcome to the Matrix.
The world that we live in is not a utopian paradise full of enlightened, civilized beings living in loving harmony with one another. It’s messed up. Unless one lives in a new age, 5th dimension shangri la, there are few who would disagree with this statement. One of the biggest templates for the existence of humanity is fear. We’ve all been trained by fear, and because of this, so many people in today’s world live scared. Identification with fear is a hideous thing. It prevents us from living authentically and blocks us from love, meaning and purpose. It’s also the root cause of everything ugly on this floating blue ball in the sky.
Our domesticated world has created so many factors to degrade our planetary health, our emotional, mental, and physical health, and the health of our spirits. These factors make us weak, sick, anxious, and apathetic. The deck is stacked against us for living a healthy, vital, wild, and free life. Unfortunately, eating mindfully and healthfully while getting proper exercise is no longer enough. We need to go much deeper than that.
I believe that the biggest reason we see such devastating rates of depression, obesity, addiction, and disease in our culture is because we’re disconnected. Disconnected from our environment, from the planet, and from what it truly means to be a human being.
As author and psychologist Mary Pipher states, “We have paleolithic arousal systems, neolithic brains, medieval institutions, and 21st Century technology.”
As we’ve mutated other species to meet our self-serving needs, we’ve mutated ourselves and forgotten the truth of who we are. You see, domestication is about dependence, compliance and control. Domestication is infected with fear. Wild is about freedom and vitality. Wild is awake and alive. Wild connects us to our deepest potential through self-reliance, critical thought, truth, autonomy, purpose, creativity, and challenging the status quo.
When we think of human wildness, images of primitive bushmen with painted faces, loin cloths, and blow guns often emerge. Although we no longer have to live like bushmen, there’s much that we can learn from their primal, undomesticated wisdom such as presence, independent thought, community, creativity, awareness, intuition, simplicity, joy, courage, truth, self-reliance, and a deeply respectful connection with animals and nature.
If we want to thrive in today’s modern world and reclaim our inner wild, we need to employ radical wellness strategies that fortify our inner bedrock of primal life-force. That means unleashing the power of the heart folks. The heart is our no-bullshit powerhouse – our truth – our real home. When we’re solidly rooted in our purest nature, we’re able to seamlessly adapt to any and all circumstances.
After living through the reality of an altered planet through drought, wildfires, and dying oceans this summer, I realize more than ever, the necessity of living from my inner wild. In a world where sickness, indifference, addiction, and distraction comprise the overwhelming norm, it’s time for each of us to become the exception by rejecting normal and embracing natural. Nature is wild and free. We must remember that we are not separate from nature, so we too must be wild and free. This remembrance alone defies normal because, well…it’s natural. By honouring our own natural inner wild, we inspire the collective inner wild. We owe that to ourselves and to the planet.
When we begin to heal the wounds of our past and learn to take full responsibility for our lives, we discover our inherent compassion, kindness, and courage. There’s also an opening to discover our intrinsic concern for what truly matters – life, love, and truth. In other words, behind all of our domesticated dysfunction, there already resides a soul who is both willing and able to live as a fully conscious human being. Healing our emotional wounds is much easier when we’re connected to our inner wild. This core connection is what expands our vision and brings us home.
My belief is that the more clearly we can see the truth – in our lives and in the world – the easier it is to break free from the lies that hold us hostage to domesticated ignorance. Gloria Steinem said that, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” She’s right. But being pissed off from waking up to truth is a good thing. It lights a fire under our asses to do something…and also, to become so much more. Pissed off is a return to wild – just like the ocean along the Wild Pacific Trail – angry, alive, powerful, graceful, magnificent, wild, and free. It’s our wild, activated spirit that will always set us free.
In a domesticated, compliant culture, the wildest and most powerful paradigm-altering thing that you can do is to be 100% unapologetically yourself. This is the only way to thrive among the chaotic insanity of our modern-day world.
Defining inner wild is easy. In my own life, I feel it when I’m me – the whole me. No apologies required. It’s the me who sees the injustices in the world and who speaks out in ways that ignite transformative action for myself and others. It’s the me who stands solidly in my truth and my inner power. It’s the me who says YES! when I mean yes, and NO! when I mean no. It’s the passionate, creative, playful, angry, joyful, compassionate, courageous, rebellious, honest, curious and expansive me. It’s the me who doesn’t play small; who knows my worth, and who’s not afraid to be radical, goofy, edgy and sometimes a little cranky. My inner wild is a free-thinking, autonomous status quo crusher who inspires others to wake up from the cultural coma that has trapped us in the paradigm of separation. Most importantly, my inner wild is guided by a profound love for this world. I believe this holds true for all of us. We’ve just forgotten.
In a world that demands our compliance, how do we reclaim our inner wild?
Like everything important in life, it’s actually really simple. To reclaim our inner wild there are two key factors:
1) Reconnecting to our inner world.
2) Plugging in to the web of life.
Here are a few simple suggestions:
- Spend ample time in nature…slow down and be fully present. Feel the wind, the raindrops, the sunshine. Savor the natural beauty of the forest, the mountains, the lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans.
- Fall deeply in love with this magnificent planet
- Unplug from technology. Spent time in silence – meditate, contemplate, garden…whatever it takes to calm the mind and reconnect to the voice within.
- Allow yourself to BE at least as much as you do. Remember that you are a human BEing!
- Spend time with like-minded community who inspire your growth; who lift you when you’re down, who support your dreams, and who love you just for being you.
- Make conscious choices that support life – not the status quo.
- Allow yourself to be inspired by animals. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the greatest gurus of all.
- Release the creator from within. We all have a writer, dancer, painter, sculptor, musician, photographer, woodworker, or illustrator within. Set your muse free!
- Speak out against injustice. Maggie Kuhn once said, “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.” Never, ever, EVER fear the truth.
- Be the change that you wish to see in this world. A great Lily Tomlin quote reads as follows: “I said “Somebody should do something about that.” Then I realized I am that somebody.” ‘Nuff said.
- Be spontaneous, and for crying our loud, lighten up and be FUN!
- Feel!!! We’re in these bodies for many reasons – primarily to feel. Negating our emotions, negates our humanity. If your heart is filled with grief, cry! If your heart is filled with joy, dance! If you’re heart is filled with anger, scream! Just do it. It’s all perfect because all of it is who you authentically are.
You are meant to be wild.
Your inner wild is the ranter, the goofball, the unsullied child, the radical, the activist, the critical thinker, the “emotional one”, the creator, the dancer, the singer, the compassionate soul, the rebel, the lover, the fighter, and the open-hearted free-thinker. Your inner wild is all of who you are…untamed, free, and unwilling to conform to a world that limits your soul.
The modern domesticated human condition is unnatural and we are suffering the consequences. However, there is a growing movement that is rapidly gaining momentum. People are waking up and questioning social and cultural norms. They’re exploring life-affirming alternatives that revive their inner essence. Creative solutions to insurmountable problems are appearing with greater regularity. Many people are reclaiming their inner wild.
Starting today I invite you to take a walk on the wild side. Unleash your soul, reclaim your primal nature and become the autonomous, critical thinking warrior of truth that you were birthed into the world to be. And hey, if you need a little jolt of inspiration, I know a mind-blowing nature trail along the wild west coast that is whispering your name.