Wild Love

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      Mark Edwards
      Participant

      Waking up this morning and thinking about turning 72 I realized that after traveling the world looking for wilderness adventures I have never been anywhere as wild as where I live now here in the heartland – the most biologically altered state in North America.

      For example, I saw a grizzly bear get shot after killing a fellow camper; woke to a gun at my head delirious with malaria in the jungles of the Yucatan; lived for 17 years without running water; leaning over the bow of the canoe in a blizzard breaking iced over lakes with a driftwood log so I could paddle out and not be frozen in for the winter in Canada;  lost at sea kayaking off the coast of British Columbia in a storm at night rolling down white capped waves eight feet high; and waking up in a hospital after days with a deathly fever from a tick bite.

      But, with age I have come to realize that wildness is a state of mind, not a place or event.  I see now that my quest was to move with fear as a friend, find love and learn about where I live.  I am still exploring what it means to be indigenous to my home, my family of the more-than-human.  I live here on the front lines, ground zero of what is a dwindling diversity of species and where my species is in denial of our death.

      Never in the history of people have we lived in such a wild place – the highest extinction rate in 65 million years, tied to technology beyond our understanding, and living on a combination of chemicals never found in nature.  With age, as an elder my story is simple – wildness is a way of being, not a place, but somewhere to love.

    • #1616 Reply
      Mark Edwards

      I need to clarify and change one word I used in the essay.  I stated I was exploring what it means to be “indigenous” to my home.  I believe the correct word would be “naturalized” to my home.  As Robin Wall Kimmerer states so clearly in the book, Braiding Sweetgrass, “I want to envision a way that an immigrant society could become indigenous to place, but I’m stumbling on the words.  Immigrants cannot by definition be indigenous.  Indigenous is a birth-right word. No amount of time or caring changes history or substitutes for soul-deep fusion with the land.”

      What would the right word be? Naturalized? As I pursue learning and loving the land, the more-than-human world, I am developing a history but I realize I have just arrived and will need many life-times, or generations, a different culture and still it would be a continuing process as the world continues to change.

       

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