As the tamed horse
still hears the call of her wild brothers
and as the farmed goose flaps hopeful wings
as his sisters fly overhead,
so too, perhaps,
the wild ones amongst us
are our only hope in calling us back
to our true nature.*
Who are the wild ones and who are the domesticated?
Here are two different contributions to the importance of wildness. The first is prose from Terry Tempest Williams and the second, poetry from Mary Oliver:
‘Humility is born in wildness. We are not protecting grizzlies from extinction; they are protecting us from the extinction of experience as we engage with a world beyond ourselves. The very presence of a grizzly returns us to the ecology of awe.’**
“Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
There light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say, “and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.””^
This wildness is not savage but beauty and randomness.
Sherry Turkle tells what may be a more extreme story of our growing dependence on technology, what may be seen as a form of domestication:
‘When a feeling bubbles up, Julia  texts it. Where things go next is guided by what she hears next.’^^
As I reread these words about dependence on technology, I was also reading Rohit Bhargava’s description of a 2018 trend he names “light-speed learning,” noticing, as he had, the revolution in how we are able to learn today online.*^
I love the fact that education is opening up in this way, challenging how traditional institutions of learning make knowledge available, but as I first write these words in my journal, it is with a nibbed pen. I feel its resistance, slowing me down as I move across the paper. I hear it, too – the scratching sound of slowness. We also have a need for slow learning. Søren Kierkegaard wrote:
“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”^*
Kierkegaard was a wanderer, taking a slower approach to life.
I’m not arguing against technology; far from it. It’s about both technology and slowness, but we are losing the art of slowness, the enjoyment of pen on paper, and what can rise out of this tangible slowness. Perhaps it is our wildness, our connectedness to everything and what it is we must contribute. Hugh Macleod describes this well:
‘The hunger will give you everything. And it will take from you everything. It will cost you your life and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. But knowing this, of course, is what ultimately sets you free.’⁺
Let us not hasten past.
(*Joel McKerrow, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Terry Tempest Williams’ The Hour of Land.)
(^Mary Oliver, quoted in Philip Newell’s The Rebirthing of God.)
(^^From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.)
(*^See Rohit Bhargava’s Non Obvious 2018.)
(^*Søren Kierkegaard, quoted in Jay Cross’ Informal Learning.)
(⁺From Hugh Macleod’s Evil Plans.)