out on the land, x̌aʔx̌aʔ tum xúlaʔxʷ , Apr 2019

My spirit needs space, my powers of reception require regular scrubbing, my feelings only feel safe when I’m in the good company of a broad expanse of our shared body––this sweet, capricious earth.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the construction of ‘wilderness’. Wilderness is actually not natural; though the designation serves a purpose and though I actively campaign for roadless designations in various places, it is a constructed reality. We’ve altered the land in such ways that returning to some idealized past Golden Age is simply a nationalistic notion masquerading as environmental consciousness. Humans, since the inception of our species, have managed, collaborated with, harvested from, and been in co-creative relationship with the more-than-human––even and, perhaps, especially the wildest places.

The idea of wilderness obviates the endurance of our very real, very constant, inalienable connection to the places that own us. It saddens me to observe the predominant, white, corporate narratives of conservation and recreation leaning far in the direction of dissociative attitudes toward the more-than-human.

We have, collectively, accepted that ‘wilderness’ is a place we visit, not a place we belong. We have built ‘wilderness’ into a thing to which we are either the savior or the destructor. Such dualistic ways of believing about, behaving toward, and, ultimately, administrating the un-administrable natural world to which we belong perpetuates ideas of us being the most important organisms sharing this great big body. News flash: only our egos believe we’re at the top of the food chain which is why so many of us tread the woods armed and scared even while acting macho.

I do not live in the woods in an attempt to escape the rest of the world; I have painstakingly woven myself back into the land, pressed hard against ki’s soft, moss-covered granite expanses. My life depends on our daily interweavings in order to function; my work is here, my love is here, my purpose, my thoughts, and, yes, my feelings. Think: do you move in the forest to forget or are you truly in the act of re-membering?