Wildness & Trust

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by Autumn Rozario Hall

Trust is a tricky thing- My humble thoughts on wildness.

I’m going to take a moment to share some thoughts that been rattling around in my mind. I hear the phrase ‘trust wildness’ often. It’s the single most difficult aspect of rewilding, of living, for me. I tend to worry, I tend to plan. I over think and think again. How can I trust the unknown, and leave myself willfully vulnerable?  I’d call my own self a fool for doing so. And yet.

I’ve realized that trusting wildness is like many things. It’s not a call to throw caution to the wind and step blindly forward because ‘it’ll all work out’, or other such poppycock. Trusting wildness is a much more organic process, at least for myself.  I came to this realization while flipping through one of my old sketch books.

Right now, I’m working with ideas of connection and exploring Iowa lands, forests, and plants. Not just the state parks, but abandoned lots, and weedy little alleyways. I am excited to see where this new series of work takes me.

When I begin working on a new series of paintings, I’m always very invested in the idea. The process of creating is joyful and spontaneous. I do not worry about how the paint will drip, or what the finished piece will look like, because I’ve come to trust my process and the idea that I am giving voice.  I’m excited and passionate because I feel like I’ve discovered something worthwhile. I trust in my idea.

I am able to trust because the idea isn’t really new. It’s just been recognized for the first time. Flipping back in my sketchbook, I’m surprised to find whispers of my ideas before I was even conscious of them.

For example, I stumbled upon these words written 6 years ago.

“Where have you gone, wild wood child? You’ve traded your bare feet for sneakers, your green eyes for shadows. Where have you gone wild wood child? Your hair tangled with leaves is now flat ironed. You’ve traded self for the lie of belonging. Rewild yourself, they can’t love what they never knew”

I found it odd that I’d chosen the word rewild. This was before I even knew rewilding existed. Before I’d started working with prairie and pollinators. But the idea was there, waiting. The heart and spirit know where they want to go before the mind catches up.

Trust is like that. Wildness is like that. It’s been sowing its seeds and quietly growing. When your mind catches up, it’ll be waiting. Then you’ll finally be able to step from the concrete path and trust that another path is waiting. It’s not new, or novel. It’s been there all along, waiting to be recognized.

Trust is rooted in knowing.

But what is wildness? Can it be known?

For me, it’s like the seasons. I always long for the season’s turning, but the desire for spring is the strongest. It starts with the air. Every season has a unique scent, and spring is no different. The grass is still a muddy mess ,and before the earliest tree has dared to bud I can smell growing in the air. It’s like all the trees are breathing, preparing for sap rising. I get caught up in the snow melt, trickling down all those gutters, washing sandy, salty winter away. I start dreaming. Dreaming of warm grass and open windows and shedding my winter skin like old snake scales.

I want to be new as the pale moss. I want to be tender, bendable, flexible, because soon, like the budding earth, I will burst. I trust in the turning, like seeds break open to new life, like butterflies birthing themselves from the cold of the chrysalis. I want to walk barefoot through the waking woods. Smell mushrooms, rot and moss, and visit my special place where the bluebells and bloodroot bloom and the streams become swollen.

It’s not a question of ‘if’. It’s ‘when’. That is trust in wildness.