“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.” ~ Alan Cohen
As we fear death, we fear life. And in fearing the emptiness that comes with dying we fear our native wildness. The two pairings go hand-in-hand.
The impersonal nature of wildness is born in the space between our flurry of personal plans and agendas. There is comfort and safety in the stories of our lives. We grasp believing them to be “our” life. But just as we don’t “own” land, we cannot “own” life. Nothing that is “ours” is life. Attaching creates false security based in a false sense of self. Whether the context is relationships, jobs, health or finances, we so easily lose ourselves in “ours”.
Hiding and distracting is what life is for most, a normalized existence of not knowing how little we know. We try so hard to feed the longing of our hearts in worldly pursuits. But in no way can it be nourished in the small-mindedness of temporal living—by chasing and hanging onto what we think life to be. Rather, joy is discovered, or re-membered, by stepping back from what we’ve always taken for granted, what we’ve always assumed to be true. We learn to feel again as we did when children, and in doing so, open to the wild, instinctive nature we are.
There is something infinitely vaster than what our narrowness perceives, something profoundly mercurial and mysterious that is far from secure for the human condition. It is eternally complex, unpredictable, uncontrollable—unfathomably wild. It is who we are, our essential nature. It speaks to us in our silent moments and loves to deliver surprise. It nudges, winks, and, in manifold ways, slips through the cracks of the surfaces we obsess over and drags us into its crucible where truth awaits.
It’s an unsettling invitation we must all eventually accept, one life relentlessly and creatively offers us. It’s just that the world as we know it is so utterly alluring. The fast cars, hectic work schedules, family merry-go-rounds, unending circle of obligations, enticement of high frequency media all keep our senses entrained to the concrete, consensus world, anywhere but the whispers of wildness nudging us. And so we refrain from lowering ourselves into and feeling the insecurities that come with the human condition, the ones that, if we dare travel through, lead us to the only security there is, our rightful place of belonging.
It was the wise teacher Helen Keller who bespoke of this. She noted:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”
To live this wild adventure we must accept dying to it. It is the only way we can possibly say an emphatic Yes to life! We must give way to emptying again and again—who we think we are, the blocks to the larger, undefined, wild Self—so that we feel the pulse of life trying to reach us and make way for what we’ve long forgotten, our native inheritance.
The Sufi mystic Rumi offers his poetic words on the matter:
“If you could get rid of yourself just once, the Secret of secrets would open to you.”
Death is the doorway to life. Emptying is the gateway to living wild and free.
From wildness there is less need to control life, for life is in control. There is less fear that life is getting out of control, for wildness is uncontrolled. This is our freedom. A sweet paradox.
Dying—giving up our variegated plans and agendas, our limited, myopic sense of self—allows us this freedom. By finding greater comfort in trusting life, trusting that we don’t need to control as much as we think, we live with a deeper acceptance of the way of things, the Tao; even when things get rocky, as they do; even when there is chaos, as there currently is, we are able to surrender and accept. Like wondrous children, we can then more beautifully dance in the lush, colourful, capricious, and often shadowy fields of life.
Chaos, uncertainty, times of great questioning and suffering, these are all part of the wild existence we share and are. There is no stepping around this. But there is peace in knowing that there is order in disorder, reason in treason, as my friend so astutely puts it. In darkness we discover the waiting light. In spaces of uncertainty wisdom is born. In falling, we rise.
“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor. Perhaps, in a way, that’s where humanity is now: about to discover we’re not as smart as we thought we were, will be forced by life to surrender our attacks and defenses which avail us of nothing, and finally break through into the collective beauty of who we really are.” ~ Marianne Williamson
The opportunity is not to become controllers of life, so often translated into ideas of “success” modernity compels us towards. Our minuscule ideas of “making it” and of what life needs cannot possibly align with the flow of existence, the wild, ineffable river that is life. Rather, our “job” is to bow, and bow deeper, and in doing so, realize in our bones that surrender is the path to the life we never imagined and have always longed for.
In bowing, we let ourselves be led. That is when service is born. In emptying life finds us, and lives through us in feeling tones, revealing, when time, what is needed.
We cannot avoid this summons to surrender. It is inevitable. During our final breaths we will at any moment release ourselves to death, to emptying, to the fullness of our wildness. And in that moment we’ll remember that all was not as it seemed, and that we were never in charge in the first place.
The end will be the beginning, a returning, a re-membering the wildness we are.
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Check out Vince’s book: Wild Empty Spaces ~ Poems for the Opening Heart