Where Is the Wildness?

May 7, 2009 Leave a comment

“Shhh!  What was that?!”  I barely heard my wife over my concentrated efforts to keep my marshmallow from falling into the fire.  “Curtis!  Did you hear that?  Something’s out there!”  I looked in Em’s silhouetted direction and saw that she, my daughter Annabel, and my mother-in-law were all peering into the darkness and at the bushes on the edge of the pond.  “What is it, Daddy?” Annabel asked.  I got to my feet, grabbed a flashlight and slowly walked towards the now clearly audible rustling, my daughter right behind me.  “There it is!” I heard someone say.  I saw it too.  I gradually moved the light onto the shadow moving across our line of view, and had the glint of two beady eyes return the beam.  Annabel’s hands clenched my calf.  “A porcupine!”  A very big slow moving porcupine.  After a few seconds’ stare-down, the creature turned and went lumbering into the woods and out of view. “That was cool!” cried Annabel, still clutching my leg.

Cool indeed.  An adrenaline rush, a mystery uncovered, a dramatic stand-off.  Everything any child, or adult, might want on an excursion to the woods.  Our weekend in Vermont was filled with moments of exciting encounter like that, from having tussling and territorial woodpeckers dart over our heads, to finding crayfish under rocks, to hearing and deciphering the distant whistle of a black bear; much of this done in bare feet (or sandals), with dirt under our fingernails.  I find our forays into the wilderness to be liberating and invigorating, and as much about wildness as wilderness.  In the North Country I feel certain veils drop, inhibitions lift, and an inner aliveness bubble up.  I see this palpably in my daughter, and it makes me long for more of this in my life overall.

Wildness is something that often seems to get cast as chaotic and “uncultured”.  And yet I know from experience that it can be a gateway to something wonderful and powerful.  I think about those times when, as a trainer or speaker, I have been unleashed, more uncontrolled and less measured, when unbridled passion took hold.  I think about the impact that this has had on me and those around me.  As scary as it can be to let go, these moments have given me a glimpse of something profound and true that may be overlooked in a more buttoned up existence.  And so I’ve been thinking about bringing more Vermont to Cambridge.

What would it mean to be wild in the work we do?  What would this look like and what might it achieve?  For a humorous peek at a possible answer, check out professor and nature writer David Gessner’s “transformative” performance . . .

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  • Melinda says:

    Hilarious! And, yes, pretty wild….

    Hmm….emulating this professor’s approach would definitely take “Pathway to Change” in whole new (more literal) direction, no? 🙂

    I dig where youre going with this…and think that this idea of engaging all parts of us, in the work while creating/designing/hosting experiences that invite, yea require, a full engagement of one’s personhood, is certainly an approach that intrigues me as a facilitator of learning/group/change experiences.

    Touch. Sight. Sound. Smell. Taste. ..bring it on! Its part of my recent fascination with the “experience design” as a field, and a curiousity to delve more into the art and science of it so as to consciously bring it forward in the work. I love how the practice of “hosting” and “hospitality” is connected to notions of “invitation” and welcoming people into what is/will be a safe space that may be a little…eh… wild/risky/unpredicable/emergent, but inside which/through which true transformation….happens. And I do believe that such transformation is truly only available in the context (or “container” though Im re-thinking our use of the term) of Community. Im with you, Curtis! I feel your nudge of not just pushing the envelope, but unleashing whats inside of it, and re-routing the delivery system (pun intended) altogether.

  • Gibran says:

    Wildness is it! I find myself often considering the attributes of a liberated human and I think it safe to say that wildness is one of them, when you meet someone who is free you notice that they have stepped so firmly into a purpose that is so uniquely their own that their every particularity shines through… this stepping out of the norm makes others field that the person is somehow – wild.

    What if or tagline was: IISC – not for the domesticated

  • Curtis says:

    Love the tagline! Not for the domesticated, and not for the control freaks!

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