Immersing myself in the process of learning how to be a wild human again, I've found that it's a long, winding process.
I wanted to write about this, in the hopes that it might help you on your journey, whether it's to regain your primal strength, eat a more paleo diet, or just be comfortable taking care of yourself in the wild.
But first, some backstory.
In the beginning I was motivated by the desire to be strong. I've always been interested in athletics and this drive to be the best version of myself possible. But I was particularly interested in the realm of physical strength, endurance and being able to move really well.
That desire eventually led me to realizing that fitness in our world is a place of specialization. Not needing to move to live, we express our physicality in sports, or movement disciplines like yoga or martial arts. In our fitness culture there often isn't a general desire to just want to move well. Divorced from a relationship with our habitat, we're no longer seeing fitness as being a competent, capable human that's well adapted to your environment. I think that's starting to change with things like MovNat, but it's still a process that's unfolding before us.
Questing to reach the peak of my physical performance, I kept slamming myself up against a wall of injury and fatigue. At the time it was incredibly frustrating, because I thought the answer was just to work harder, and it seemed the harder I worked, the worse things got.
In hindsight though, like it always does, it made total sense.
Here's what I was trying to do:
Sit for 10+ hours a day, then do 2+ hours of maximal strength training, focusing mostly on static holds.
I was doing lots of gymnastic training at the time, holding positions, like a plank, hollow hold, lsit or handstand.
I considered these movements to be the epitome of strength and body control.
The problem was my work was largely on the computer. Add on top that our culture of sitting that adds even more time in a right angle, whether it's on the couch, driving, or sitting at a bar. We sit a lot, and I was definitely overdosing on it.
So, basically you have sitting in a rigid, slouched position, then adding on hours of training on top of that being even more rigid.
Static + static = not a happy body.
My body was wrecked, naturally, and I felt it. I felt like an old man getting out of bed at the age of 26. It made zero sense.
What it did though was motivate me to figure out was I was missing in my approach. That eventually led me down the path of asking what a natural movement approach would be for a human.
The answer was definitely not sitting and static holds, I'll tell you that much.
Anyway, I'm glossing over a lot of steps in this story, but the point is that it wasn't a straight path from pain to living a fully wild movement lifestyle. In fact, it's something I'm still working on today. It's improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years, but I have a ways to go. And I might not ever get to a utopian movement life.
Right now I'm experiencing a similar process with diet. My long term vision for my life is to live with food sovereignty. I would like to grow, hunt, fish, and gather the great majority of my own food. This is what a real paleo diet means to me, not just eating lots of coconut oil from 2,000 miles away and domesticated cow meat (even if they're grass fed).
I'm making progress here too, but I'm a lot less developed than in the movement and fitness area of things.
And that's still with:
- Volunteering and helping on my friend's micro farm nearly every week from spring to autumn
- Starting a garden in our yard
- Taking multiple wild food workshops
- Reading tons of books about wild edibles in my region
- Going out foraging at least once a week
- Fishing, practicing archery, tracking and learning as much as I can about hunting
I've done a lot, but I'm still probably years away from my goal.
Why am I saying all of this and what is the point of this post?
I want to remind you that it's a process. Learning to be wild again, if you really want to do it all the way, is going to take years.
And because it's going to take years, maybe even decades, you need to be patient. Extremely patient.
It's easy to get overwhelmed, it's easy for your job or problems or lack of experience to get in the way.
It's easy to want to get frustrated and give up because you feel alone.
It's easy to just say why even bother, because it's hard having all the demands that modern living puts on you, and to not let that stress keep you from devoting the time and discipline to make a wild life possible.
It's easy to not go outside when it's cold and wet and netflix and games on your phone are way more pleasurable (in the short term).
It's easy to give up, because, fuck, it's hard trying to figure this stuff out as an adult, when no one taught you anything, and you never had a tribe to help you learn how to be a wild human.
I'm saying all of this because it's so, so important to let it be a process. To give everything you have to create as wild of a life and body that you truly want and know is possible, but to also have some grace with yourself. To also be patient and celebrate every step you take on the path.
You can now hold a resting squat comfortably? That's amazing. Most people can't.
You're eating a mostly local, seasonal paleo diet even if it's reliant on industrial farming? Badass, that's something most people can't claim.
You can climb a tree, identify an edible plant, or move each of your toes individually? Those are all amazing things, each an important piece of the rewilding web.
The more I dive into the process of rewilding, the more I find there is so much more to learn.
Right now I'm learning how to live comfortably in the wilderness, without gear made by industry. I'm a total noob in this area, but it's so exciting to learn and grow so rapidly. It's amazing to learn how to make fire without matches and connect with that lineage of our ancestors. I suck at it right now, but I try not to get frustrated. It's all a part of the process, and I'm leveling up all the time.
There's so much more to learn. And the truth is that I don't know if I'll ever live a totally wild life. I like the city (sometimes), and I enjoy things that technology has to offer, like typing things into a computer right now to remind you to be patient. But I do know that I want to be more wild, and integrate that into this modern life I have as much as possible.
When you have such bold visions for your life, it's important to not let them overwhelm you. That's the recipe for wanting to give up.
Stay in the process, focus on the next step, and enjoy the journey. That's what it's all about, anyway, right?