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The Nature of Wildness

September 14, 2014

The root meaning of wildness is being wilful or uncontrollable. It is an expression of self-will beyond oppression, rather like nature unfolds in its own myriad of ways, unconfined and ultimately unpredictable.  Life is inherently wild. And yet in our paradoxical quest for simultaneous security and freedom, we have sought both to control and wall out this wildness – this ‘sea of troubles’. Our rational abstraction of reality defines, boxes-up, and confines within an unnatural order of its own making. As part of our civilising process we grasp for predictability by de-contextualising and domesticating life. We remove the essence of wildness from life in order to tame it. Yet we overlook the insight this wildness brings and in so doing confine our true, naturally creative and empathic selves. Within the apparent chaos of wildness is a profound beauty and coherence, which is far removed from the anarchistic free-for-all that some of us fearfully imagine – a co-creative evolutionary dance of vibrant diversity.

‘The wild. I have drunk it, deep and raw, and heard its primal, unforgettable roar. We know it in ourselves, for we are wild to the core.’ Jay Griffithsprogression4

It is our quest for a completely definable and thereby static order, tamed, tied-down and ultimately non-alive, which seeks to banish wildness. Yet it is within and through wildness that natural truth metamorphoses into an ever-folding and unfolding deeper manifestation. This wildness we should celebrate not denigrate. It should be danced with, not cut up into bits or caged.

‘What is wild cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or copied. It is.’ Jay Griffiths

It’s true that our rationalistic, materialistic scientific paradigm with its defining atomism and rigid framing has brought great strides in technological advancement – but who knows how much more (it need not be less!) could have been possible if we had stayed truthful to nature? By removing the essence of wildness from our reality we dislocate ourselves from nature, and an anxious sense of separation and dis-ease ensues. There is so much we can learn from nature’s wildness if we allow our quest for understanding to be unrestricted by abstract rationality. We need at long last to allow the wildness back into our way of understanding, because rationality devoid of wildness is crudely simplistic and non-sense-making – a refuge for ignorance and needless complication and conflict – neither simplifying nor sensible.

‘In the wild waters of the world, the fish does not go under. It is in its element. Amidst the unpredictable it swims in grace’. Catherine Keller

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