A Return to the Wilderness, Part 1
For the last few years I’ve been telling people that I’ve written a book, and only one person really, beyond a shadow of a doubt can back me up on that claim, yes my family has seen snippets as well as some friends and professionals I’ve networked with, but largely, it remains a feat that for the most part people just have to take on my word. But that doesn’t say much. On this journey I’ve seemingly gone about things in my own way – backwards that is… Leon Uris wrote that to be a writer we have to acknowledge within ourselves that we’re either insane or very naïve; this I have discovered over and over again. Can I compete with the best out there? Is my work good enough (even as I work constantly to improve it)? Do people actually want to hear what I have to say? – And on that note: What exactly do I have to say that warrants such an endeavour? - These are questions every writer faces.
Inevitably, I’ve also learned that we preach about what we ourselves need to learn, and that, is what I’ve been doing for the last few years (in the very least anyway), learning.
Which brings me back to the mountain; I was once asked how it is that I’m such a good climber (referring in that instance to rock climbing) – truthfully I’m not that great at it, but let’s just say that I’m “contextually adept”… this was when I first started, and as a beginner my reply was: “I guess I was always a rock climber in my mind, except that physically, I just wasn’t. So then, when I eventually got the opportunity, it all sort of felt natural” – this is something I’ve been working to apply to my writing career as well, because once you actually make that huge leap, or take the first step/hold on that first climb, are you really what you claim to be, what you believe yourself to be?
That is where Faith creeps into the reckoning. Needless to say we all have our personal journey and have to travel it and negotiate its challenges in our own way.
The Spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed.
-- HOWARD MACEY
It’s a book every man, or anyone who calls himself one, should read. I’ll zero in on one thing though… that of the wilderness. You see, within the heart of the true man lies the desire to explore, to be the frontiersman and lay foot upon unbroken ground, to return to the wild.
It’s interesting that when people do this (not just men), they inexplicably relate the experience as being something akin to spiritual, because in reality, it is our spiritual home. So if you acknowledge the spirit within a man, within yourself, then you must realize that that Spirit, is in fact wild as well. The flesh is weak and confining and finite, but the spirit is unrestricted and strong and eternal, but only if we embrace it.
Take the Bible for what it is physically – a book – and in this book of stories from many writers there is a tale of when God made Adam (in the wilderness) and brought him into the Garden of Eden (where he made Eve)… the point being this: there is a reason why men often put up pictures of untamed landscapes in their house or office, and it is about way more than simply beauty. It is the CALL of the wild, beckoning him to come home, and re-energize for his daily battles. Incidentally, the Bible also states that our spirit is our direct link to God (if you take it as more than just a book of stories). (It begs the question: where does this spiritual realm come from?)
Your spirit is wild, which is why so many choose to ignore it, or don’t acknowledge it at all, because it is also dangerous, but it remains the key to you coming alive.
So, I’m heading up to a mountain (along with over a dozen other brave souls, male and female), into that wintery cold, clouds and snow, to in some way symbolically cap off or underscore this mini chapter in my life – which just so happens to coincide with the near completion of the third draft of my novel (which I’ve renamed Peacekeeper – about a man who discovers what it really takes to fight the battles he faces, even when he doesn’t see it coming, when he’s alone and outmatched).
The true heart of man is not a mere fleshy pump in his chest, but is in, and is, his spirit and the exploration of the vast untamed mystery of this creation we like to call life. Yes, there will be splendor, but there will also be pain lurking in that dangerous unknown, this is a battle after all. I pity those who think less of it… but there is always hope.
Part of it is living on the border between life and death, or living on the border between the material and immaterial, and learning how to apply that spiritual world, to the natural of everyday. Getting back to the wild then, is about getting back to the frontier for easier access into the transcendent part of ourselves which is more than elemental. For me, personally, it’s about getting closer to God.
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