We hear a lot about how we should all be connecting back to the earth. How growing our own veggies and buying organically raised meat will help save the planet. We are also told that working on the land can heal our emotional unwellness. It has been proven that being in nature calms us down, dispels anxiety, stress and even depression. The reason given for this radical shift in our emotional state is because nature helps us reconnect to ourselves. But what part of ourselves are we connecting with?
I grew up on a Welsh Mountain. Until the age of eleven, when we moved to the city, my days were spent outdoors in the wilderness, hanging out with the goats, chickens and the sheep who wandered the mountainside. It was there I met my wild self. I actually had no choice in this meeting, you don’t get to live so closely with nature and stay unwild. Every day, I was witness to death and re-birth, blood and milk. I experienced times of intense joy and wonder at the birth of new life, and times of deep sorrow at the ending of another. From my head to my toes, from my knotted hair to the earth under my fingernails, each day ended with me feeling fully alive. This aliveness, I believe, came from the connection to my wild self.
The wild self knows that feeling deeply connects us to every living thing. The wild self is the ally to the soul, without it our soul doesn’t get to fully express itself on this planet and then we get sick. An artist friend said to me, “I need to make art for the sake of my mental health“. Many artists, musicians, writers, video game designers, knitters and basket weavers admit that they need to do what they do, or go insane, or at least be very miserable. They are listening to their wild selves, choosing to embrace its energy rather than suppress it with drugs, alcohol or shopping.
I’m lucky enough to live in a place where I am surrounded by nature…actually, it isn’t luck, after many years of living in the city I found a way to move myself and my family to the wilderness, not as wild as my childhood mountain but wild enough. I had to. My wild self was becoming restless. These days, I’m more likely to have printers ink under my fingers nails than earth (although, sometimes earth too). I’m not suggesting everyone has to move to the countryside to find their wild self, but sometimes getting a little earth under your fingernails does the soul some good.