“Human beings are the only creatures on earth that claim a God, and the only living thing that behaves like it doesn’t have one.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson
The list goes on and on for reasons why the system is not working. From rampant pollution to wars waged for profit. From greed driven fractional-reserve banking to terrorist-generating drone strikes. From unsustainable state-driven politics to rampant homelessness. From hyper-violent cops to Trump’s ignorant Trumpisms. From epidemic nature deprivation to pandemic Stockholm Syndrome.
Never has there been more of a reason to rewild the world than now. We’re deep in the throes of the Anthropocene, and it is high time we took responsibility for our power. Understand: rewilding does not mean regressing. It’s not a call back into the cave. Not at all. It’s exactly the opposite.
It’s the call of the wild which helps us realize that civilization has become the cave. The call of the wild is the heart’s longing for itself to become openhearted once again. Rewilding is simply a healthy means toward achieving that end.
In conservation biology the term “rewilding” is the rehabilitation process of captive animals. In the case of rewilding the world, or The Great Rewilding, the captive animal just happens to be human.
1) Learn survival skills:
“Always and everywhere, human beings have felt the radical inadequacy of their personal existence, the misery of being their insulated selves and not something else, something wider, something, in Wordswirthian phrase “far more deeply infused.” ~ Aldous Huxley
Teach yourself the basics. Start with the rule of three: You have three minutes to oxygenate, three days to hydrate, and three weeks to eat before you’re on death’s door. So, it stands to reason that you learn how to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and eat clean food before anything else.
Polluted air isn’t at epidemic proportions yet, so clean air shouldn’t be too difficult to come by, but you’ll have to figure out where and how to purify your water and get access to unspoiled food (hunting; gathering; gardening). These skills are a survivalist’s fundamentals.
Next on the list of survival necessities is probably sleep, and for that you’ll need to know how to build a shelter. Learn how to manipulate wood without electric tools. Learn how to make ropes and tie knots. Human companionship is a must for healthy survival as well. We are social creatures, after all.
So, you’ll either need to devise a system where you can come and go between civilization and the wild (the peripheral lifestyle), or find like-minded people who are willing to rewild alongside you. Love – from Platonic to Romantic to Agape – is the ultimate survival skill that brings it all together.
2) Honor the earth:
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” ~ Aldo Leopold
Falling in love with the earth is falling in love with ourselves. There is no separation when you are truly honoring the cosmos from a self-as-world and world-as-self perspective.
There will be many enemies on the path toward the reunion of your heart with the wild, but they will all be your culturally-conditioned self. They will take the guise of fear, grief, denial, discomfort, and cognitive dissonance. They are defeated by practicing courage, love, curiosity, adventure, and self-interrogation.
Have the courage to be vulnerable. Fall in love again with always being in love, like when you were a child. Dive into natural wonder and awe and passion. Look at all things, even setbacks, as an adventure. Practice interdependence.
3) Dismantle civilization:
“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Similarly, the civilization that cannot cast its skin must die. Though there’s no reason why it cannot be a healthy death. Like a caterpillar annihilating itself within a cocoon so that it can become a butterfly. Or like a Phoenix becoming ashes so that it can become a more robust Phoenix.
But it is up to us, as forerunners of a healthy and progressive evolution for our species, to become the proactive force necessary to transform outdated entropy into updated energy.
The unhealthy infrastructure of the old must be disassembled and then reassembled into healthy infrastructure, otherwise the unhealthy infrastructure becomes a kind of psycho-social prison devoid of connection.
We are both the glue that binds the healthy, and the solvent that dissolves the unhealthy. Dismantling the outdated is the other side of the coin of building something new. It is our responsibility, as healthy and reasonable agents, to do what needs to be done so that our evolution as a species is both progressive and healthy, lest it stagnate into outdated and parochial values, or worse, devolve into ill-health and ill-reason.
4) Bring about progressive sustainability:
“When seeking guidance, don’t ever listen to the tiny-hearted. Be kind to them, heap them with blessing, cajole them, but do not follow their advice.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés
After the disassembling, the reassembling. After the cocoon, the butterfly. After the ashes, the phoenix. After the death, the rebirth. But with rebirth comes a greater responsibility. With lessons-learned-the-hard-way comes the initiation into adapting and overcoming in healthier ways. As it applies to Self, so does it apply to Culture.
So, what does it mean to adapt and overcome in a healthier way? One profound answer is progressive sustainability: The ability to sustain that which is healthy while also progressively advancing in healthier ways. This can be achieved through mental, physical, or spiritual technologies that keep us open to new ways of evolving.
The way forward is through flexible logic and reasoning as opposed to rigid dogma and close-mindedness. The ability to recognize that which is healthy and then proactively move it forward, while also recognizing that which is unhealthy and then decisively leaving it behind, is the epitome of progressive sustainability.
5) Go feral:
“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.” ~ Alejandro Jodorowsky
Rewilding begins at home. If you rewild yourself again and again, you might earn the right to rewild the rest of us.
I mean, there must be healthier escapes than myopia-ridden television and high-school-esc Facebook, right? There is. And it’s the greatest thing ever. But it will take courage. It will take surrender. It will take deep vulnerability. It will take being fully present to the interconnectedness of all things. It will take going feral.
Beyond mere survival skills, honoring the earth, or transforming unhealthy worlds into healthier ones, is the greater importance of rewilding the heart. Yeah, that tiny red ball of hungry fire in your chest trapped behind the prison of your ribs that you probably haven’t considered in a long time. It needs oxygen. Especially inside the crashing plane of our culture. It needs us to put the oxygen mask on it first so that we’re able to help others do the same. The wild, the natural world, is that precious oxygen mask.
So, go feral. Go into the wild and “feel” what it has to teach you. Go with your heart on your sleeve, like the pulsing red compass that it is. Listen to it. Listen deeply, hungrily, like what it has to say is going to save your life, because it will.
Let it lead the way into the wild. Let it lure you into dark places where you can shine your light. Then come back into the world of men and let it guide you into the blinding light of culture, where you can invigorate the self-serious goody-two-shoes with your beacon of darkness, your soul-craft, your magic elixir.
In a world on fire, a rewilded human being is water. In a profoundly sick society, a rewilded human being is medicine. In a paradise turned wasteland, a rewilded human being is a seed planted in the compost that has the potential for flourishing, eudaimonia, and a paradise reborn. As Alan Watts said, “We are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy.” The rewilded human is here to prove it.