I’ve been working on rewilding myself for 11 years.
11 years of deliberately rejecting the culture of destruction and cultivating my relationship to the land. 11 years of trying to reverse the indoctrination I received through public school, 11 years of living simply, living small, and 11 years of fighting for what I believe in.
every so often, I wake up with an insatiable craving, a hollowness in the chest.
On these days I wake up and I
Shiny purses and soft leather boots. Jeans that accentuate the hips, shirts that minimize the waist, and bras that maximize the breasts. Shiny new pots, mixing bowls in every color, spoons carved from the finest woods.
Books from every author, so eager in their shiny new jackets, the richest paints, the highest quality paper. A new computer, the fanciest i phone, a printer that prints the brightest blues, and the most brilliant greens.
Overstuffed couches, corduroy chairs, the tallest bookshelves, golden lamps, wool rugs. Candles, and pencils, pens and paper. Soaps, and lotions, and hats and mittens. Miles of necklaces, gold, silver, and stone, earrings that brush the collarbone, bracelets that climb the arm.
I want, I want, I want. Every commercial I’ve ever seen burns through my veins. My appetite for things is voracious, I may never be satisfied.
I am an addict.
Addicted to things, to stuff, to junk. To buying, aquiring, stockpiling, consuming. I want to hoarde mountains of things, and I don’t want to share.
And yes, I’m in recovery, mostly.
But like I said, I still have cravings.
And, on the spectrum of consuming, my addiction was never even really that bad.
But still, I was born into the harsh lights of T.V. screens, and consoles. Raised on cornflakes and fruit loops. My playthings were plastic, my Christmases were piled high with cheap toys made in china, most likely by children not unlike myself, paid for with credit cards, fake money my parents never had (although I thank you mom and dad, for loving us so much, and wanting to give us the best).
I learned to recite the brand names right along with the ABC’s. A, B, C, McDonalds’s, Burger King, Coca Cola, could recognize their logos like the faces of friends.
And I was one of the lucky ones, had a big backyard, and played outside with friends on sunny, rainy, and snowy afternoons, but still, I became indelibly imprinted with the consumer culture I was born and bred in.
Indoctrinated to WANT, through T.V., and magazines, billboards, and schoolyards.
And it’s not so mysterious, this addiction. They say we are still hunter-gatherers, in body, and mind, in DNA. The same as our ancestors. Bred to hunt, and gather, to be quick of mind, and strong of wit. Born to roam the open land, eat the wild foods, and live under the open sky. Made to observe, search, hunt, and gather, bring food home to the tribe, share, and live in community.
But the scourge of convenience has rendered our hunter-gatherer skills useless. Water comes through the tap, heat through the flip of a switch. No longer do we need to roam the landscape to find food. A stop at the grocery store, or better yet the drive through, after work, and our subsistence is easily secured for the day.
So we shop. We buy mountains of things. We search for, and acquire, and bring home bags and boxes and armloads of stuff. In an attempt to fill an ancient craving, a hunter-gatherer shaped hole in our hearts.
And the shopping is a poison, a drug like any other. An attempt to replace connections to one another, and the land, and God, with a quick fix, a shiny wrapper, a fast car.
But this constant craving, this endless thirst, is destroying our world, and collapsing our planet.
So what do I do? Those days when the craving to consume burns hot like a fever and all I do is WANT?
I go outside.
I go outside to my spot. A small spot, with a small pond, and a small spring, in a small park.
I go to my spot, and I WATCH.
I watch the deer eating purple loosestrife and the squirrel building her nest. I watch the mink bounding along the edge of the water, and the sparrows kicking up the underbrush. I watch the slow twining of the honeysuckle, and the gentle dying of the grasses. I watch the sun set in the western sky, and the moon rise in the eastern one.
and I LISTEN.
I listen to the Great Horned Owl’s call, and the sound of wind through the leaves on the trees. I listen to the quiet whisper of the water over rocks, and the soft sucking sound of mud. I listen to the Raccoon rustling in the bushes, and the tapping of the Pileated Woodpecker.
and I FEEL
the cold ground beneath me, and the fresh air on my skin. I feel the eyes of the rabbit on my back, the soft brush of pine needles, and the rough scratch of the hackberry bark.
I SMELL and TASTE
the first curling tendrils of a new fire. The last apples on the trees, and the sticky sweet of the soft wild persimmons.
I gather acorns, I hunt deer. I laugh with Wil at the silly fox pups, and smile about the tiny turtle making it’s way to the water. I marvel at seeing the same friendly jumping spider, in its home, for the third day in a row. I kiss my baby, I love my husband, I laugh with friends. I raise my arms to the sky in wonder, and lay, on the ground, and feel the soft swell of the earth beneath me.
Outside is the antidote, the antivenin, the inoculation
to the hollow-hearted addiction that is consumerism.
And my small spot, with the small pond, and the small spring, in the small park
was the hand that reached out and grabbed me, the sponsor that told me it would be alright, the warm embrace of a loving friend.
My spot saved me. And I’d like to introduce you to yours.
Welcome to the sit spot.
And this is also the next blackout action, so spread the word far and wide, invite your friends, write it on the bathroom walls.
A sit spot is one tiny area of this big beautiful world that you will visit very frequently.
Sometime in the next two weeks, you will find a spot that calls to you, in a local park, in an abandoned field, in your own backyard.
You will listen to your instinct, and you will find the place that calls to you. It does not have to be special. It does not have to include sweeping vistas. It will become special to you. The tiniest patterns will soon become as breathtaking as the grandest views.
You will go to your spot as often as possible. Once a week, a few times a week, or better, everyday.
You will sit quietly. You will engage your senses. Pay attention to each one. Vision, hearing, touch, taste, smell. Breath deeply, try to relax your mind.
You may feel uncomfortable. You may feel cold, or hot. You may have to pee, you may be hungry. You may feel scared. You may imagine strangers behind you, and eyes watching you. You may want to go inside. Don’t. I promise you, it will get easier.
Start with 10 minutes and work up to 20. Don’t try for more than that right now, we’ll increase the time gradually, as we go along.
Find your spot, start to go there, practice engaging your senses. Your spot will be your teacher, your mentor, your guide. It is where you will learn about the plants and animals. The smallest patterns will teach you about the largest ones. You will learn about yourself, your strengths, and your own mind.
We will start small, and grow together.
I’ve been spending time at my small spot, with the small pond, and the small spring, in the small park for 10 years now. I have learned the patterns, and the habits, and the names of the plants and animals. I have learned about myself, my strengths, my weaknesses. I have learned about the earth, about connection, I have learned to be alive.
And I branded myself with the map coordinates of my spot. To keep the feeling with me when I’m not there, to remind me of the connection. To quiet my mind when I’m driving, waiting in line at the store, picking up the mail.
It’s a small spot, with a small pond, and a small spring, in a small park.
But to me, it’s home.
Nature is the antidote, the antivenin, the cure to the affliction that is consumerism,
that is civilization.
Go outside. Find your spot, Start to connect. We’ll do it together, we’ll write about our experiences here, we’ll talk about them if I we see each other in person, you’ll write me letters and e-mails, I’ll write you back.
Find your spot,
I love you.
Please forgive me.
Thank you for listening,