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Telling Tales of Separation: stories of rewilding the soul.

Updated: Apr 28

TELLING TALES OF SEPARATION



It came up in conversations again. 

I found myself retelling my temporary hiatus from the natural world,  that I call my personal separation of nature. 


Its hard for many to believe - that I of all people- spent some time divorced from the wild. 

I’ve berated myself, at times, for those days off course. Whilst knowing that everything is exactly as it needed to be, for me to do the work and make the impact I find as my profession now. 


As a young girl, there had been no line between me and the wild. I spent most of my spare time, in fields, with animals, 


My best friend was the village ‘animal restbite’ which meant our time playing in the garden was accompanied by ‘Jack’ the injured jackdaw or ‘bumper’ the pigeon who had revived after an impromptu meeting with a car windscreen. They would sit on our shoulders while we played tig or bounce around the gravel while we ate wild mint in the garden. 


In primary school,  I stared out of the window, wondering when the bell would ring and I could return to making mowed-grass hospitals for sick daddy long-legs. Or return to rolling stealthily out of sight from the teacher, down to the beck-side to look for newts or frogspawn. 


By my 20’s this part of me was disconnected. Hazed by the hedonism of uni life, nocturnal sleep patterns and soon after a  leap into a very serious and demanding career working in Psychiatric hospitals as my first ‘proper job’ 


In this period of around 8 years of my life I had not consciously realised what I had left behind, or disconnected myself from. 

But I had a vague feeling something had ‘gone array’ or was missing somewhere. 


Whilst I spent all of my efforts convincing myself my life was a happy one.   

I look back now,  seeing it as the saddest and most complicated part of my being human. 

A time when I needed to be Nature most. 


I share the story of my ‘rewilding’ regularly to people. In my mind and soul it feels like it should be named something epic like the  ‘The Great Return’ due to it’s significant impact and change of trajectory on my life. 


 Its vivid in my mind, the moment of change.  I called a friend and told them I missed them and wanted to go on an adventure together. If I’d finished the call openly - with the message that sat in my heart- I would have also said ‘oh and by the way, I’m really missing Nature too’ 

But of course. I didn’t - because I’d been wrapped up into conforming with a society that doesn’t say ‘that sort of thing’. 


I can remember the moment I leapt out of the car and into the wild, I rushed from tree to stream, hung from branches and made weird screeching noises while my friends vibed off the general joy I was catalyzing. 


In the car on the way home, I leant my head softly against the car window - something I did when I was little on long car journeys - watching the blurry edges of hedges, fields, trees and birds that we past by.


 A feeling anchored in every part of my being. 

Id found my way back. 

A return to my wild. 



At secondary school we had studied the likes of great nature poets, many of them men. 

We had learned about the way they were seen as foppish by many and shunned for their feminine qualities of the arts and Nature appreciation. 


The world around had begun to industrialize and in turn depreciated its value on nature;  commoditising it instead.


It is only in my regenerative practice now that I see these moments of divide play out amongst our histories and herstories. Taming us out of the simplicity (and beauty) of ourselves as nature. 

 

There are complex layers in all of our nature separation stories, each one cannot ignore the nuances of segregation in our histories, colonization, the witching of women, the mental institutions, a thirst for wealth and status and the transitioning narrative of ‘otherness’ which saw words like wilderness and wild seep with darker connotations and seek us to fear, not belong amongst it. 

Even those of us, most wild in spirit, still tamed by the echo of it all. 


Beyond the real, raw mix of emotions that come with my own story - everything from elation to guilt and fear. I realised that, in my ‘leaving nature and finding it again story’ I helped others, realise theirs too. 


It seems quite a lot of us have them, these stories of separation. 


As someone said to me recently. ‘I have this too, why aren’t we talking about it more?’ 

Yes, why not? So here I am, to do just that!


Perhaps as you read this, your own story is coming to mind. 

Its worth saying that your story may have the happy ending, of reuniting yourself in the wilderness. Just as mine did.


But I also want to reassure those of you, who stumble across the complex feelings and vivid memories, you may now be experiencing. As someone who still sits amongst the ‘separated’ and ‘segregated’  chapter of your tale. Finding some comfort in my assurance, that you can and probably will find your way back. 


For others, your story of separation might have always been there. No tangible childhood connection with nature, yet even more confusingly you sense the connection with my yearning for the wild. Beyond the not knowing how, trust me you can and will learn and what comes after that, is a very beautiful thing!


Here are two common archetypes of stories, so common in there relating to me that they are a taxonomy of their own.  We all love a good fable, after all.


The ‘good girl’: A girl who learned of conditional worth from others - a currency of self-doubt and self-esteem all in one. Parents, education, puberty plucked her from her wild and distracted her with benchmarks of success. Moulded of the womanhood society sells to her. 

Only  one day, she feels the grief, sadness and emptiness in her heart of the wild she once knew. You once knew. 


Her return comes with so much abundance, the permission to heal and feel, and create. To be silly and playful, and move her limbs in weird wise ways. To sit in the silence of the woods with nothing more and less that the here and now. 

With this return  her heart is bigger, brighter and as if a woodland fairy waved it’s wand, her impact on the world catalyses. With more energy to do and be, then ever imagined. 


The second is the Mowgli - a kind gentle man - with wandering boy at his heart- whose sense of adventure and deep perspective making - finds no place in the conformity of professional institutions or extroverted alpha’s - a lone longing wolf in the pack.

 Agile, dynamic and seeing the world through wild caring eyes. 


At times he has chosen to give up nature in an attempt to conform to this norm of modern-humanity that seems to reject his heart-felt wilderness ways. 


Other times, the wild becomes his deep secret solace beyond the human-world of commodity and hustle, bravado and bustle. Where feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, comparison lead to shrinking and wilting of his spirit. 


They call Mowgli's darkness depression, anxiety even despair.


The Mowgli is sometimes known to feed the wolf. To try and cope, with their inner-outer turmoil- sometimes with alcohol, drugs, faked-machoism that exhausts the soul. Fauned status-seeking that digs a cavern in the mind. 


Other Mowgli's immerse themselves in the wild. Trail-blazers, adventurers, explorers, climbing beyond heights, pushing their bodies to wild unknown limits, getting lost in the woods. 


The inertia hits hard.

As they return to ‘the everyday. Hiding in plain sight, unknown and tamed in amongst others.  Fearing to bring themselves in. Scared of what could be, misunderstood. 



With a wolves eye or a sprites glee both can fall in love with another wilderness mind.


A wild kin, who’ll be alongside them in the forest, in the hills, in the foraging and star gazing. Often igniting their way back.


Returning together to wild freedom. 


In the saddest of tales these two natures children, with their adult skin, lose themselves more deeply , conforming to the norm of expectation. They find a lion tamer, the cage, or the snare. In people and work. 


Tangled in the noise that drowns out the bird song, un-babbles the brook, blinds the vista and darkens their horizon. 


Perhaps I sit here telling your story, knowing you before you know yourself. 

Let that reassure you wild one, ‘I know a field, I’ll meet you there’ (Rumi)


Of course, each of our stories speaks for itself. 


Twists and turns like the streams and rivers we swam in. 

Now and then a spark of the wild, the glimmer of the gaze, the playfulness of adventure.


Creativity for creativities sake. 


The freedom of the wild. 


I realised - fairly early on- that maybe,  just maybe staying silent in our stories. 

Keeps us all stuck. 


Unfurling my experiences to others, creates a spiral, a release. 


I forget my own story sometimes now. In being a part of this place [nature] I always knew and will always love.


In finding my way back. 


I forget my own forgetting and remembering.


 Now; just part of me again I part of it. 

 

Then... someone speaks towards their loneliness, the letting go, the void that sits in their heart.


Where they once played amongst the woods, or splashed in the water, or melted in the sunlight of a wide-open day. 


A word, a pause, a question. 


As animal to animal - we feel it. Gut and Heart pincered. 


Instead of moving on, I breathe in, and speak forward - with a glimmer of hope and a way to the wilderness. 


‘Did I ever tell you about the time, I lost my wild?’ I begin. 




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