When I was a child, I used to imagine going to a place no one had ever been to before. There would be no trails, no trash, no trace of human presence. Over the years, as I studied the history of human migrations and tracked our exploding population and greedy exploitation of the remotest corners of our planet, I came to the realization that such places probably no longer exist. As I recently journeyed through West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, I decided I should simply revise my dream: not to go where no one has gone before, but simply to go where I have never been and to bring myself fully to the encounter.
In a recent Huffington Post article, Daniel Crockett writes about the trend in our culture toward seeking “wildness”, including purchasing the trips and costumes and paraphernalia that tell us we are explorers of the wilds. But we delude ourselves. “The wild you seek is not on some frozen summit, empty ocean or silent plain,” he writes. “The wild is within you.”
I find myself in agreement with Crockett’s proposal, and yet I would caution against naïve mythologizing of this encounter with our own wildness and with the natural world. It is something that my protagonist in Vol. II of the Recall Chronicles (Shadow of the Hare) deals with after she flees her urban world and lands in West Texas. “My excursion into nature quickly became a retreat into my own fanciful world,” she observes.
If we truly wish to meet the natural world, we must meet it as it is and not as we desire it to be or imagine it to be. It may not be as “wild” as we would like, but if we meet it with the wildness of our own hearts, our own nature, I believe we will find the encounter more than satisfying.
Coming in May 2016 – Shadow of the Hare (Recall Chronicles, Vol. II) – Malia Poole is a stubbornly dissident author and bibliophile in a world where books have ceased to matter and barely exist. Emerging from fifty years of self-imposed exile, she discovers a world far more terrifying that the one she fled.