Why Does Wildness Matter Today?

It's 2015. There are 7.2 billion humans on Earth and 54% of us live in cities worldwide, with that percentage slated in increase by 66% by 2050

In the United States, 81% of the population live in urban areas

In 2012, 90.58% of the population of Utah was reported to live in urbanized areas, concentrated primarily along the Wasatch Front. 

We showed up as a species on the planet about 100,000 years ago, but have only began living in cities for the past 9,500 years or so. From the standpoint of our evolutionary history, we have spent 90% of our collective history out in the bush. Cities are a relatively new thing.

It’s clear that today we modern folk are thoroughly urban folk for the most part. Who knows how to identify the edible plants in our yards these days? Who climbs trees? Who keeps track of what’s going on with the moon? Who knows how to make fire without matches? And who even cares about all that stuff?

I like cities. I am excited by the human diversity they offer, the comfort and convenience.

And, boy howdy, I need to get out on a regular basis. I think most of you feel the same way, right?

What are we doing when we recreate in wild places? For the modern person, who goes out into the wild without the stress of surviving, it seems that one thing we are doing is resting our brains

This past month I have taken people out into the Wasatch Mountains on ReWilding Medicine Days, for a full day — about eight hours or so.

It’s not remarkable for many Utahns to be outside for eight hours at a time. What is unique, however, is that on these Medicine Days we spent those hours doing NOTHING (by modern standards). Can you imagine that?!

We create a container to access states of consciousness other than the normal ‘gross waking’ state in which most of us normally live our lives — which is not hard, actually. Just being still in nature can do it. In this subtly altered state, we then spend hours just BEING. No agenda, no goals, no pressure. Most of the time is spent alone, wandering wherever we are called. We slow way down. A new clarity becomes evident. When we do gather again at the end of the day, we connect . . . now at a deeper, more authentic level, and get to feel what that quality of human connection feels like. Spending time this way, I personally feel nourished at a level that I can’t find in city life. I know participants feel the same.

I believe that not only can we rest our brains by being in the wild, we can also re-member an ancient and foundational part of ourselves. By being in the wild in a slower, more conscious way, both alone and together, our genetic memory relaxes into the way of being human that we were in continually for 90,000 years.

This remembering is our wildness. And this remembering is perhaps more relevant to our modern world than we presently understand. 

Bringing that genetic memory now into our personal consciousness is a powerful and effective way to support our growth into more and more individual wholeness. And by each of us evolving into greater wholeness, we collectively bring to bear a more whole and grounded wisdom to the modern issues and challenges that are asking to be solved at this time.

So perhaps our wild places are sanctuary, places we need to visit in the depths of ourselves, in order to access the wisdom we need for our modern times. And doing nothing in those wild places just might be exactly what we all need now.

What is your experience of being wild?