I can recall very clearly the first time I read Henry David Thoreau's 19th century classic, Walden. My heart was immediately intrigued by this magical, yet beautifully simple, autobiographical account of a man who chose to stay true to the call of his soul and reclaim his wild.
In the book, Thoreau shares his various musings, observations, and experiences while living in a small rural forest cabin near Concord, Massachusetts for two years, two months, and two days. Through nature immersion, radical self reliance, and an instinct for freedom, Thoreau sought to heal the rift that he felt had been cleaved between humans and wild nature.
I'll be honest... the first time I analyzed the quote above in my graduate philosophy course, I thought it read wilderness, and not wildness.
My college environmental courses taught the importance of the preservation of wild spaces unmarred by the resource hungry hand of humanity: as habitat for wildlife, a place of scientific inquiry, and potential seeds for sustainable resource development for future generations. There are also the topics of wilderness therapy, "leave no trace," and environmental conservation for the purposes of preserving cultural and ancestral heritage.
But wildness... wildness is not wilderness. The tonic of "wildness" digs all the way down to the roots of the human soul.
The dictionary defines wildness as "the quality of living in a state of nature; not ordinarily tamed or domesticated; not amenable to human habitation or cultivation."
My mind meanders to wild women I have always looked up to: Frida Kahlo, Stevie Nicks, Angelina Jolie, Rachel Carson, the Spice Girls. They unapologetically reclaimed their wild. They understood and felt the immense importance of wildness, not only to the health of their individual human soul, but to the trajectory of the human experience on Planet Earth.
To be wild means to radically embrace a natural state of being. It is to embody your innate wholeness, right now, just as you are: a kaleidoscopic expression of humanity. Wildness requires you to explore, embrace, and befriend the many beautiful parts of yourself, as well as those labeled by the world as "bad," "messy," or "ugly."
The reclamation of your wild helps you to lean into the great paradoxes of life, basking in their ever present mysteries. You practice the art of stillness and simply being, as well as the rhythmic dance of movement and action.
Wild: You are gentle, yet fierce, peaceful, yet passionate, grounded, yet flying among the stars.
Wildness is the dance between polarities, between universal oneness and duality. As the universe seeks to be in constant evolution, the only place "oneness" can go is "separation." Realizing this, the wild woman finds herself in a state of peace: knowing this life, death, rebirth rhythm is always flowing and satisfying itself.
To be wild is to be aware of your interconnectedness with everything and everyone. Nature consciousness opens your eyes to the understanding that the outer world is a reflection of the inner. To be wild means to understand that you contain all the answers to life's externalized questions within. You access this innate wisdom by reimmersing yourself in the ever present rhythms, energy patterns, and cycles of the natural world.
Reclaiming your wild, you surrender all perceived limitations and false belief systems, creating our own set of rules to live by. And even these new rules are up for constant negotiation. Remembering that today is a brand new day.
Your wildness calls upon you to be fully present and welcome what arrives on this brand new day: the storm, the rainbow, the malice, and the miracle that is this life. As you reclaim your wild, you choose to perceive the world as one that is safe, supportive, and abundant for your dreams to manifest. In wildness, you find the strength to remove those masks that keep you from showing up fully for yourself and for the world: knowing your vulnerability is the source of your power and not the cause of your weakness.
Wildness is the opposite of apathy.
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Living wildly, you release your need for perfection and your hunt for approval. Suddenly, you have no reason to prove yourself or defend your truth. Wildness just is. As you root in to the soils of your wild soul, you trust your own inner authority to always tell you what is right for you.
As a wild one, you unlearn and release what you are not. You realize that you require no one and no thing external to access a sense of wholeness and holiness. Reclaiming your wild means coming home to yourself. It is there, back home, standing in your sovereignty, that you access a realm previously inaccessible. Every thing, every action, and every one suddenly takes on a sacred kind of magic. It is this very magic that appears to remind you that you are worthy of your greatest expression of life.
Reclaiming your wild, you see your innate value as a wild soul with exceptional gifts to be shared with the world. You let go of the resistance, of the struggle, of the toil to be what you are not. Life becomes gloriously simple as you settle into ease and grace. You see that your purpose in this life is to stay connected and open, and to feel and experience everything contained within the glorious ordeal that is humanity.
Wildness is the wild flaming hearth fire of your heart that ignites your passionate commitment to the service of a greater good. Self-reliance, response-ability, and personal sovereignty paradoxically teach you about importance of relationship. Nothing exists in isolation of anything else. You actually become more connected to community the more you express yourself authentically. And in expressing your own wild nature, you inspire others permission to do the same.
In reclaiming your wild, you find freedom. The fear may still be present, but the wild soul within continues on path. Regardless if it is graceful or painful, the expression of your conscious choice grants your wild soul liberation. Liberation from thinking you're locked into any particular outcome or reality. Liberation from believing you have to fit any preconceived notion of success or happiness. Pure liberation to be you.
All limitations are revealed as self-imposed.
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Reclaiming your wild burns away your tendencies towards self sabotage and shame. As the wildfire rages through your limiting beliefs and your self-imposed limitations, you suddenly find space for your instinctual wisdom to expand. Burning brightly, you are given the clarity of sight: that laser-like vision that finally sees your creative power as a latent artistic expression of your own reality.
This was what Henry David Thoreau sought to know in his bones. He sought to remember his place in nature. There on the banks of Walden Pond, he committed to reclaiming his wild.
Now tell me...
How might you reclaim your wild?
What does "living wildly" mean to you?
Is there something you can do today to rewild?
On July 26th, Wild Women are gathering in Brooklyn, NYC for "Woman! Reclaim Your Wild," a single-day soul retreat. Together, in an intimate group of sisters, we will explore what it means to be a modern wild woman living in an urban jungle.
For more information or to register, visit the event page here.
Parts of this blog post were previously published at NABALO.com