Wild Child

“Among oral people’s, language functions not simply to dialogue with other humans, but also to converse with the more than human cosmos. Words do not speak about the world, they speak to the world, and it is our loss that we have become severed from the vaster life, and have forgotten the expressive depths of language provided by the whole of the sensuous world.” David Abrams

A post on the Depth Psychology Alliance group, Ecopsychology, discusses the topic of story, fairy-tales and language in relation to environmental education and this paper by Joanna Coleman. You can read the post and conversation here, but a free membership is required.

My heart goes out to this vital topic. Before one can enter into a conversation on using stories to heal the rift between ourselves and nature, might it first be necessary to consider both Nature herself and the nature of belief and story? Are stories still a vital way to see ourselves?

Perhaps some resistance to seeing ourselves in a story, a living fiction, preferring instead to call it Reality, stems from a necessary agreement that we are not simply making the world up. We need agreement for those places where our lives intersect. The modern distinction between reality and fiction mistakes story as something untrue, rather than something that provides a metaphorical way to understand reality. Reality and story are not opposites. They belong to two entirely different modes of perceiving.

Storytelling, for us moderns, is enjoyed primarily because of its fictitious nature. Immersing ourselves in a story means suspending reality, perhaps releasing us from the tensions so many of us feel. Tensions caused perhaps by an increasing dependence on remote, uncontrollable sources for food, water and shelter. Technology, in some ways, returns us to infancy, only our mother is now the Sysco truck, the Real Estate agent and local Utility service provider.

File:2008-07-24 International truck docked at Duke Hospital South 2.jpgCan humans live for hundreds of thousands of years, relying primarily on hands-in-the-dirt participation with local resources for survival, to a place where we’ve forgotten most of the knowledge it takes to survive, trading it in for utter reliance on a network so vast, complex and distant that it’s become out of sight and out of mind? What does this change do to Psyche, let alone Nature?

Perhaps the change in us that’s hardest to see, although sensed, is also too primary to see. We live the life given to us through the structures already in place upon entering this world. They are natural. And if nature is now out there, in a zoo, a storybook, or a National Park, we’ve tamed it to the point that what little exchange we have with animals and trees barely touch us, except in a sentimental and safe way, or through efforts to manage her. From forest fires to so-called Parks, nature must submit to human demands – the more so, the more damage done.

But, do we remember the fear of the wild our ancestors lived with, or understand their drive to tame the wild west? Perhaps we have never come to terms with the conflict between a desire for safety and its result of devastating loss of wild life. Must the choice for safety always come at the expense of nature?

Culture:

Middle English (denoting a cultivated piece of land): the noun from French culture or directly from Latin cultura ‘growing, cultivation’; the verb from obsolete French culturer or medieval Latin culturare, both based on Latin colere ‘tend, cultivate’ (see cultivate). In late Middle English the sense was ‘cultivation of the soil’ and from this (early 16th century) arose ‘cultivation (of the mind, faculties, or manners)’; sense 1 of the noun dates from the early 19th century.

Ironically, culture relates to land, saying something about our relationship to nature, not nature as it is, but the one we till, grow and harvest. Culture than is the very thing that moved us from a people living with the inherent constraints and fierceness of nature, to a people resisting her wild unpredictable circumstances by settling down, forcing nature to comply through the use of our technology. From here it’s easy to see that nature becomes our thing, less something nourishing and containing us, and more something to be subdued, enslaved and dominated.

A Snow Leopard at the Toronto Zoo.

Not only must we see the horrific attitude that comes from dominating nature, but perhaps we must also see that blindly following the path of our ancestors has less to do with some inherent human evil and more to do with the harshness of nature herself. Can we remember what the pre-technological past was like and the harsh conditions of day-to-day life for primary sustenance? Could we moderns ever willingly give up even a drop of our technology; the safety, the abundance, the convenience and choices we have as a sacrifice for longterm stability?

Perhaps we need first to forgive the ancestors and ourselves, for choices made along the way that brought us the comfort we now seem unable to live with or without. Maybe then we can accept the sacrifices necessary to bring about a balance between our comfort and convenience and a sustainable world. Can we see though that our desire to plan and manage nature is what got us to where we are today? Does nature need us to tend to her ways?

I prefer to answer that question by remembering that I, too, am nature; part of the problem and the solution. Perhaps the thing most needed now is not only to see how blame, hope or turning away affects us, but to enter into a conversation that allows fear, anger, and sadness as necessary expressions that encourage attention to the complexity of our human nature and current predicament.

Maybe our fate has already been sealed and we’re free-falling our way to an unknown future – not alone though, for, abandon her, love her, fear or hate her, nature will be there too.

With hunger at her heels,
Freedom in her eyes
She dances on her knees,
Pirate prince at her side
Stirrin’ into a hollow idols eyes
Wild child full of grace,
Savior of the human race – Jim Morrison

20 thoughts on “Wild Child

  1. Pingback: The Green Man | The Ptero Card

  2. What a great thought provoking post Debra.. True we are all part of nature, yet over those centuries and our existence in merging with technology we seem to have forgotten most of our instincts except the ones of Anger and Fear.. We have it appears for many of us lost our ability to Trust our Instincts and learn that Nature in fact co-operates as well as competes for survival..
    Our Stories have changes as our perception of reality has changed.. We view the world by what we are shown, and our society is based more and more on what to Fear from each other rather than who and what to trust..

    We view others with suspicion and mistrust and we are soon judgemental and condemning.. When you look at how we are living in society we are so reliant now upon technology I am sure if some were to be plunged into existence without it, they would be hard pressed to survive..

    Yet saying that awareness is a gathering momentum.. Change is happening.. People are realising we need to alter our ways of being.. And its good to know that consciousness is expanding to many are getting out of the ‘Rat Race’ and seeking less stressful lives as they connect back to Nature and the Earth growing their own and learning to be more self sufficient and protecting the environment.

    Lets hope Debra more can join in as we begin to heal each other and the World..
    ~Blessings
    Sue

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sue,
      Thanks so much for sharing your heart here.

      When I was young, I remember my family doctor had poster on the wall of his office that said, “Children Learn What They Live.” It listed all the possibilities of what children can learn from what they experience throughout childhood. I remember later on, as a teen, realizing how much fear and mistrust I had learned already. Although I disliked these characteristics, in hindsight it took years of living to unlearn some things and experience life anew. Perhaps many of us are in hte process of doing that. It seems so to me, on a good day anyway, and most especially here among my WP friends.

      I so appreciate your hopefulness and good spirit!
      Blessings!
      Debra

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Reality and story are not opposites. They belong to two entirely different modes of perceiving.”
    What is “real”? It always returns to this question, doesn’t it? If all is the Mind, then surely everything is real? I struggled with terminology in my therapy sessions and for some reasons kept talking about “real life” as opposed to “dreams.” My therapist said that it is much better to use the term “waking life.” I may not share the understanding of reality with the “moderns” but I am not bothered by this so much any more.
    Just embracing my inner wild child… 🙂

    Love

    Monika

    Like

    • Dear Monika,

      I wonder if the cultural use of the term does not reflect the gradual change in consciousness towards a myth of science that tells us we can now know things as they truly are. This myth is perhaps in response to how modernity views the past, especially our religious past, but most definitely our unscientific past. But not only does the myth of science remind us of the illusory nature of “the rising sun,” it sees its own myth as the only one, the one that brings us Truth. In that sense it burdens us with a demand that we are always willing to attest to its primacy among competing world views. I can’t help but feel this burden myself. It’s no longer the heart that is weighed to determine the goodness of the soul, but our allegiance to scientific norms. In the myth of Science, there is no allowance for metaphor, myth or poetic thinking. We are just creatures subject to the illusions of our senses. We must always do the math; proof for validation. If something cannot be quantified, your belief in it is illusory, superstitious and unreal.

      I suppose it’s not so much the word that disturbs me but the idea, or the myth that underlies the notion. From the myth, comes a style of rhetoric now taught and required in newspeak and common parlance. I wonder too, if these linguistic habits don’t reflect a change in consciousness. I hope to keep at these ideas and write more about them.

      I suppose I am bothered, but more in a curious sense of seeing states of consciousness as fascinating, difficult to speak of, but having much to do with our relationship to each other, and to the “ten thousand things,” and to ourselves. Perhaps as Science takes us to the edge of the universe, we may also be seeking the edge of consciousness. The myth of Science, unknowingly, may increase the tension between the seeming opposites of myth and reality to a fevered pitch in which something creative and beyond the opposition comes of it. Admittedly, this is completely speculative and imaginal thinking on my part!

      From my wild child to yours, love,
      Debra

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love the thought of the creative third being born out of the tension of the opposites, Debra. I also feel that the seeds of the conflict you describe were already present between Plato and Aristotle. I can be stubborn that way: thinking that human nature has been actually constant since the times immemorial.

        Like

  4. “Can we remember what the pre-technological past was like?”

    In the past, I’ve wondered whether we might, as a result of cyber warfare, at some point be forced to return to a lesser state of reliance upon technology. I am unable to envisage a time when warfare itself comes to an end – there’s simply no evidence to support such a reversal of trajectory – and yet we also are embarked upon an incipient trajectory of increasing the use of cyber warfare.[e.g.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stuxnet%5D

    Should both trajectories continue, then whilst it may remain so that technology holds firm in some degree, our connectivity, and upon which we so depend, may be diminished greatly in its capacity. The transition would be a great threat to any society under such an attack, of course, though if we were to come through without the disintegration of the same, we may rediscover other connections, not least of all with nature of course. That, I fear, is perhaps a rather rose-tinted prognosis!

    Thank you for this wonderfully thought-provoking article Debra.

    Hariod. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Hariod!

      I agree, humans would most likely survive, but the deck would be reshuffled. Sometimes I wonder if humans have some unconscious desire to go as far out on the limb of self-destruction as possible, as if the power to destroy is itself felt as a power to create. Sounds crazy but…

      xxx
      Debra

      Like

  5. It was the potent Abrams quote that lured me. And I am pleased to have read the entire post, Debra. So much depth reached and significance touched. Your thoughtful words have caused me to pause, reflect on what really matters, and consider some recalibrating. On a Sunday night, these thoughts are just what I welcome as I soon rest my head on a pillow.

    Like

  6. Indeed, we humans are Nature, which so many unfortunately forget (or deny). You also brought up a powerful point: “Perhaps we need first to forgive the ancestors and ourselves”, but again many need to acknowledge the power and timelessness of spirit, forgiveness (and gratitude). That alone could change so much! Namaste _/l\_

    Like

  7. Love the title and the lyrics. You can never go wrong with Jim!
    I had a similar passionate conversation with a friend about this subject. We did not agree on much, but we both share an awareness of how much has shifted in regards to food in such a short time. I enjoyed learning the origin of the world culture, which also contains the word cult.

    I keep returning to the wisdom of indigenous people. They know how to live. Yet I also think that it was necessary to progress along to where we are for reasons that are unknown to me. In other words, the fact we are HERE is meaningful in itself. Do you understand what I mean?

    Have a wild week, you wild child!

    love, Linda

    Like

    • Dear Linda,

      Thanks so much for your kind words and note.

      You state the dilemma very well. Yes, the indigenous peoples did very little, if any, damage to the worlds they inhabited. And yes, I believe that somewhere, somehow, humankind would have progressed, even if western civilization had not developed as it did. Good point. We’re stuck in a love/hate sort of thing.

      Industrial food production is pretty scary, but again, look at how many more people are fed by it? Yes, the trade-off’s are chronic diseases like Diabetes and heart disease, but even still, life expectancy continues to extend.

      I don’t have any answers, but sense that there’s a lot of guilty feelings about our past and many people would rather tune out and play video games, not because they don’t care, but because they don’t know what else to do.

      I’m glad you liked the Jim Morrison reference! You too, my wild child friend, have a wild week!

      xxx
      Debra

      Liked by 1 person

Your comments welcome here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s