“ReWilding is the systematic approach to transcending our own domestication, and restoring some of our more diminished but still accessible physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and sexual attributes. These characteristics are still present within us, encoded as they are into our ancient hominid genome, but have lain—until now—dormant. Like a seed that awaits the wet drink of water that will awaken it to the spring, so to does our wildness sleep…”
~ Daniel Vitalis
ReWilding describes the philosophy of reconnecting with our innate nature, with powers, traits, skills that we have lost over time.
By going back to the wild in subtle or dramatic ways, we can reclaim our full potential as human beings and rediscover solutions and perspectives that hold the key for our future.
The problem we face is domestication. Yes, that’s right. Like domesticated animals on a farm. Tamed, meek, programmed to follow, to feed at the trough, bred to not run wild and free.
Happily, there are a still some totally wild humans out there—a dwindling number in isolated pockets hidden deep in jungles, but severely under threat. There are plenty conscious, organic, grass-fed, semi-wild humans living in the developed world.
“Ask yourself—do you feel caged, free-range, or just totally wild?”
There are also a growing number of formerly caged humans who are just learning what the sky looks like, and learning how to flap their stunted wings.
But there is a great mass of humanity who don’t even know they are domesticated, let alone have the awareness or will to roam free.
Ask yourself: do you feel caged, free-range, or just totally wild? I know I’m not yet as wild as I yearn to be.
Back to Our Roots
I just completed a labour of love I should have done weeks ago. My beloved Bonsai tree (Bobby-san) has been calling out to me as his vibrant hues of green have faded away to yellows and browns. I feel terrible it has come to this.
I have sought advice and the remedy, I’m advised, is repotting to allow higher quality soil and oxygen flow around his root system. As above, so below.
My bonsai tree has reminded me of the fundamentals of survival and growth: roots.
In this moment of extreme circumstance, the survival and thriving of Bobby-san has nothing to do with pruning his leaves, watering his pot or giving him more sunlight. We are beyond such measures.
The future of Bobby-san lies in going back to his roots. So what exactly does this mean in the context of the human condition? Let’s move quickly from bonsai trees to animals, to explore the answer.
Happiness and Animals
Have you ever wondered how animals tackle the subject of happiness? Well, they don’t. They simply do what they do—monkeys swing, birds fly, fish swim—they reproduce, they socialize, they eat.
They do what their DNA programs them to. Left to their own devices, they just get on with living.
When external forces, such as zoos and farms inhibit the natural behaviour of an animal they start acting abnormally, develop illnesses and disease. They become emotionally unbalanced. They become very different to their wild and free brothers and sisters.
Come on Humans—Let’s get Wild
“There is no way to happiness; Happiness is the way.”
Re-Wilding follows the same logic. There isn’t much difference between us and my bonsai, or us and a cow. We are born, we live, we grow and we die. The only difference is that we possess the intellectual faculty to enquire into the truth of our existence. A mixed blessing if ever there was one!
As with animals and plants our DNA contains the code of our natural behaviours. Following our natural human behaviours contains the key to just getting on with life, instead of endlessly searching for something more.
The current human condition, my meditation teacher mentioned, is the endless search for Control, Comfort and Certainty. These are culturally programmed needs, rather than natural needs imprinted in our DNA. The eternal quest for these things is ironically, what keeps pushing contentment further and further away.
As Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh eloquently puts it: “There is no way to happiness; Happiness is the way.”
So what are these natural human behaviours that guide the way to happiness? These are easy to identify. Our DNA is nearly identical to our primal ancestors who roamed wild 10,000 years ago. So our ideal natural behaviour should also be nearly identical.
When we remove the artificial layers that are designed for Control, Comfort and Certainty, we are left with the essence of what makes a human a human.
“When we remove the artificial layers that are designed for Control, Comfort and Certainty, we are left with the essence of what makes a human a human.”
We need to survive, and for that we need food, water and shelter. And to thrive, thousands of years of human success show us that we need to communicate, connect with each other, connect with nature, eat wild foods, partake in ceremonies that give life meaning, create art, socialise, sing, dance, pass down wisdom, tell stories and move. These are our genetic birthrights.
Our natural human behaviour is not to be working in cubicles, disconnected from nature, eating manufactured foods, breathing polluted air, feeding our consciousness with synthetic content and buying synthetic goods.
These are artifacts and lifestyles created by a culture that tries to synthetically achieve happiness through control, comfort and certainty.
ReWilding is about realizing the folly of this path, and going back to our roots, back to what it means to be human. It is about walking away from artificial domestication, and reclaiming our genetic birthrights.
ReWilding is simply about being more Human
So how do we do this ReWilding? First of all, we have to reclaim the word “wild” and think about what it actually means. Our culture says “wild” is bad. Our culture wants to you to be afraid of the wild, stay within the city limits, buy your cloned bananas and tinned pineapple from the supermarket and be a good little citizen. But wild means natural and free.
ReWilding is essentially about a shift in consciousness, an awakening. This does not mean turning our backs on the wonders of science and technology, grabbing spears and wearing a loin-cloth. Why not take the best from both worlds?
ReWilding is to recognize that our minds and bodies crave more nutrients and a more wild existence…but also seeing that wildness and nature is all around us if we choose to go there.
It’s about understanding that we cram ourselves in cities that contain more sadness and loneliness than ever… but we can create real connections everyday if we choose to.
It’s about educating ourselves about the realities of our industrialised food-chain…and then educating ourselves about alternatives of permaculture, small-scale agriculture and back to the land movements.
This is a movement and a philosophy. It could mean as little to you as spending more time in nature, having a morning with no technology, eating more local produce or walking barefoot more often.
Most of all, ReWilding is about recognizing in yourself the shackles of cultural conditioning…then making the deliberate choice to free yourself and run Wild in every way that calls you.
What can you do to be more wild, to be more human?
Author: Jiro Taylor
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Mark Roy/Flickr