A bit of searching online will tell you that “Spring in the Northern Hemisphere will begin on Thursday, March 19.” You can repeat this to others in a confident voice, and everyone will believe you.
Meanwhile, the trees and flowers in the woods around my house are calmly celebrating Spring on their own damn schedule. Bright-green crocus and daffodil shoots are pushing leaf litter aside. The exposed spot on a dogwood tree, where woodpeckers have revealed the cambium, has also turned green, flooding chlorophyll upward to every little leaf bud on every little twig.
I love the stubbornness of nature. I love its refusal to do what we say.
Of course, this has caused no end of trouble for humans, from Ötzi the Iceman (a dude who died 5,000 years ago and stayed frozen in the Alps until two tourists discovered his body in 1991) to me and you. Our species has done everything possible to “overcome” nature—only to realize, a bit late in the day, that natural systems are necessary for our survival.
Instead of nature, we focus on culture. Not “culture” as in classical music and smoking jackets, but any set of rules humans create to control their own experience. Culture is what taught you to sit still when your little-kid nature wanted to run around. It’s what commands you to be meek in the face of authority figures who are bombastic, hurtful, or downright insane. It’s what tells you that you must have a “normal” job even when the jobs it calls “normal” are disappearing, and your nature is to explore the unknown.
When I wrote Finding Your Own North Star several thousand years ago (Ötzi the Iceman said he enjoyed it), I differentiated between your “social self” and your “essential self.” If you’re talking about all humans and all our creations, this translates to the rule of culture versus the rule of nature.
If you’ve ever tried to become a morning person when your body is a night owl, or to focus on filing when your brain is naturally inventive, you’ve fought the fight between culture and nature. And you know this: Nature always wins.
I believe it’s time to stop the fight and join the winning force. Instead of trying to fanagal new ways of being “culturally appropriate” when that isn’t working on any scale, I think we should be exploring the ways we naturally function. We should be optimizing everything that’s unique and quirky and potentially brilliant about us, rather than trying to check every box on a form specifying how we should live our lives.
In short, we need to go wild.
I don’t mean wild as in college coeds flashing their boobs at TV cameras—that’s pure culture. I mean wild like the crocuses outside my house. I mean rejecting toxic authority systems and surrendering to what Dylan Thomas called “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.”
In my most recent book, Diana, Herself, I wrote an allegory of this—a woman lost in the forest who awakens to her true nature. I called this process “bewilderment,” or (to spell it out) “be-wilder-ment.” I believe this is the way we find happiness in every present moment. Moreover, I believe it also takes us closer to the ultimate awakening that can end our suffering.
Here’s where the podcast comes in! Yes!
Because I want to help people go wild in as many ways as possible, I’m making a podcast with that precise purpose. With me is my co-conspirator Rowan Mangan (those of you who watch the Gathering Room on Sundays will know Ro as the Gracious, Notorious, or Felonious Badger, depending on what her true nature happens to be doing at the time).
Our new podcast is called Bewildered. It’s for People Who Are Trying to Figure It Out. We’re talking about real issues in people’s real lives, always looking for ways that culture has torn folks away from their true natures.
If you’re trying to figure it all out, if you’re sick of your social self and need help extracting it from the jaws of culture, or if you have a hunch your essential self is trying to send out bright new shoots of something beautiful and wild, give us a listen. Ask us some questions.
Let’s go wild together.