I need the wild like I need food. I need fresh air just as much as I need sleep. If buttercups could be my currency and chestnuts be all I need to eat, then I’d be happy as Larry. Whoever he is. But unfortunately I ain’t got the stomach (or four?) of a cow and plus, I’d be limited to no-shops-at-all with that kinda currency.
There’s something about my life at the moment that fills me with shame. Shame about how little of the wild I actually do have. I mean ‘proper wild’. Miles and miles of land with no one but you and the dozens of sheep scattered across the landscape. Or acres of sand, with nothing but you and a load of invisible beach creatures scurrying around around your feet. I’m a self confessed nature addict yet I’m living in a city…WFT? I’m clearly a pretty cruddy addict. But truth is, I think as the charge behind my daily feelings and experience is softening, so are my desperate needs. One of them being the need for completely perfect nature. I fucking miss the sea. I fucking miss the rivers. I fucking miss the rugged hilltops. I fucking miss the wildnerness of where I live so much it is literal agony, but my need for nature really does get met despite not being able to retreat to where the only sound is the sound of the rustling leaves and crickets. Weirdly enough, as calm is coming to my Self, my soul and its ease is beginning to flourish. I wrote this piece a couple of months ago and it tells this story too.
Living in a city, especially like the one I live in now, doesn’t at all mean you can’t access wilderness in your doorstep. A bus ride or a train ride or a longer walk than usual or a road trip, can always find you vast nuggets of wild, but my trips to the wild are now so gentle I can’t quite believe it. It feels slightly bonkers considering how I have been so independently adventurous and confident my whole life. None of the hiking off on my own despite the fear, ignoring my inner signals, is on the cards anymore. I have felt so torn, so split right down the freakin middle, the last year. I tried for a lot of last summer, to push myself and go off adventuring despite the fact I was riddled with terror. Slowly i started to see it was having literally the opposite effect of what I hoped, and what it ‘should’. I felt desperate and trapped. I had a need to get outta the city and have some alone time with nature, but I was too scared.
But slowly, as I have begun to listen to this terror and the anxiety, leftover from a trauma, and stuck close to my home turf, not gone off on my own much unless literally pottering down the road to my favourite nearby hill – and only when it feels right – has the split begun to merge and soften, and each side got to know the other. The side of me that is desperate to just head off on my own and adventure – the side I have tried desperately to still listen to – and then the side of me that feels so desperately unsafe if I am on my own outside – the side that cripples me when it comes to solo adventures like I used to have – have begun to meet in the middle. Although its more like the adventurous part of me is just sitting on the fence waiting and ready, armed with hiking boots and a surfboard, sitting it out until the day this is safe again, comes.
I’m having to sit on that fence too, and wait. And trust. I fucking hope that soon, or whenever it is, I feel safe enough to head out and find wilderness again. I fucking hope that I don’t always feel so weirdly calm and content with just a back garden as my wild spot, but I secretly feel quite cuffed that I do. I feel a pride with myself that I have learnt to listen to this desperate need to feel safe, putting my body first. I cry at how much I miss the sea, and sob about how much I long for a river, and wonder whether I’m doing myself more harm than good by being so fucking delicate with myself. But I know I’m not. I’m doing more good than harm, that’s what. And for me that’s a fucking miracle. One I deserve a swim in the nearest pond for.