Who Does She Thinks She Is?

I am an old soul. It matters not my age nor my global position; my heart has made a connection with one of the literary greats and I seek to introduce a man that few bother to understand. Henry would probably see me as one of the sillies, caught up too much in the ridiculousness that is modern life, but I desire to take a page from his book and simplify, simplify, simplify!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How Near to Good is What is WILD!

Of all of Henry David Thoreau's frustrations with society, perhaps the one that makes me smile the most is his obsession with Wildness.  Our generation envisions those "born to be wild" as certainly anything but unpretentious, solitude-seeking, civilly disobedient poets and naturalists.

Henry's essay entitled "Walking" explores his fascination with and attraction to what is wild.

"Life consists with wildness.  The most alive is the wildest.  Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him."

The problem seems to lie in the subduing then.  It is all in the taming and the controlling and the corraling. In fact, he suggests that "who but the Evil One has cried 'Whoa!' to mankind?"  Do we settle for less when we gravitate towards those things that are modified, tamed, groomed and manicured to fit into our uptight, prim and proper lives? Do we go to the seashore and watch the waves from inside the safety and warmth of a beach house?  Do we observe wildlife from outside the fences and enclosures of a carefully built zoo?

Perhaps he is right.  We imagine ourselves as adventurous when we travel in packs as tourists, being led around by the nose by tour guides, keeping us within the safety of the tame.

Ah, tameness.  The antithesis of wild.  Henry sought to find where the wild things are in every facet of life.

"In literature it is only the wild that attracts us.  Dullness is but another name for tameness.  It is the uncivilized free and wild thinking in Hamlet and the Iliad, in all the scriptures and mythologies, not learned in schools, that delights us....A truly good book is something as natural, and as unexpectedly and unaccountably fair and perfect, as a wildflower discovered on the prairies of the West or in the jungles of the East." 

Perhaps that is what has drawn me to this unique, eccentric freethinker.  He isn't willing to be confined within the limits of society-imposed manners and acceptable behavior.  He isn't afraid to offend with his outrageousness.  He isn't content to settle for the safety of observatories.

He spent his life getting his feet wet, searching for the Wild.  "I do not know of any poetry to quote which adequately expresses this yearning for the Wild.  Approached from this side, the best poetry is tame.  I do not know where to find in any literature, ancient or modern, any account which contents me of that Nature with which even I am acquainted."

We all should crave a little outside-the-box wildness.  Conformity and passivity and coloring within the lines are stifling. Let the wind blow our hair.  Roll up our pantlegs.  The Wild won't come to us; we need to seek after it.

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