I want to talk about wildness.
1 (of an animal or plant) living or growing in the natural environment; not domesticated or cultivated.
2 uncontrolled or unrestrained, esp. in pursuit of pleasure
in an uncontrolled manner : the bad guys shoot wild.
noun (the wild)
a natural state or uncultivated or uninhabited region
There are a lot of wild-heart songs. I don’t know why. But I do know that they don’t make sense to me.
When I first started living alone two years ago, it was amazing because it felt like my brain was running free. All that time with no one around so the forest in my head grew up, like I never had to clarify, I didn’t have to tread out any paths at all. I still wouldn’t trade it, but the flip side is that my thoughts are now incomprehensible even to me sometimes. Orienteering is hard even when you have the right tools and there’s no such thing as a brain-compass.
For a long time my mind was the only thing I was sure I could be proud of. And then, abruptly, it wasn’t. But that isn’t the point.
The federal government designates wilderness as “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” It’s a stricter definition than a national park or forest–for example, there’s no mechanized equipment allowed in a wilderness. When I worked in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness in Oregon two years ago, we cleared fallen trees from the trail with a hundred-year-old crosscut saw. The air was clean, the views were amazing, and it was quiet. That’s wilderness, and it’s certainly wild, but it’s not what these songwriters mean.
So I always thought my mind was the wild thing, not my heart, which is all semantics because they’re just meat in my meatsuit but you understand the distinction. For the past couple years I thought my heart was dead, a burned-out husk, crumbly timbers barely standing after a fire. Or, in slightly more lucid moments, I thought of it as outer space, as a blackness so complete it could swallow planets.
I believe that I can make you scream for me
I think this song was in a car commercial recently?
Maybe songwriters gravitate to ‘wild’ because it’s a less-racist way to say ‘savage’ or ‘exotic.’ Maybe it’s the more ‘authentic’ or at least the more romantic version of ‘crazy.’ It could be a kind of irony and juxtaposition to hear the call of the wild in shimmering synths.
But I mean–when I think of ‘wild,’ I think of the bear cubs that I saw when I was hiking with Shannan three years ago, and how scared we were. I think of getting certified for Wilderness First Aid and how they told us that if you got bit by a rattlesnake in the backcountry you probably weren’t getting out alive. I think of how hard it is to explain myself, sometimes, how much work it takes to thin, let alone clear-cut the forests of Bad Thoughts.
I wanted to write about the actual songs here–and I have so many more, too–but such is not to be, apparently.
My heart is still outer space.