Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wild Spirit

Today, I was reading another story about a tribe in Africa that is being displaced. I have seen shows on the Travel Channel on occasion, where camera crews go out to some far off place in the Amazon jungle or a Pacific Island or other remote place where there are still some tribes living in forests that are far from any cities or developments.

What will the world be like when there are no more wild ones? Will it ever really be possible for the forces of civilization to bring everyone in from the outdoors? We have already seen what can happen to a country when deforestation becomes rampant. We think of countries like Brazil in this regard, where thousands of acres of rainforest have been cleared. There are also reports that the rainforest has reclaimed land that was bulldozed and roads that were seldom used became overgrown again.

Scotland today is also a country with few trees for the same reason. A long time ago, their trees were cut down for buildings, furniture, ships and firewood and not replanted. How different it would be if it were thickly forested as it was in the past. And if you have ever visited places in the US where areas have been clearcut and not replanted, it has a sad and devastated look to it, and you can see how it forever changes all life in the area.

When we look at the life these people lead where their subsistence depends on hunting, honey gathering, fishing and picking edible plants and daily life consists of things like getting up in the morning and talking about their dreams or creating ceremonies to celebrate coming of age of their young ones, or funerals for their elders and the selection of a new leader, we cannot help but note how, for better or for worse, that contrasts with our own lives.

Even now that people can book vacations to just about everywhere, from the Amazon to the Antarctic, it is interesting to note that there are still some pockets in mountain valleys or rainforests that are still like they were in prehistoric times.

These last undeveloped places also harbor life forms that may play important parts in our world, even if we do not know exactly what that is. It is not just about a certain type of fish or bird becoming extinct, we have also discovered plants that grow in these places that can be made into medicines for cancer and other diseases.

In some way, maybe we need to know that there are still places on our planet where humans still live according to primal instincts, simpler lives that are plugged into knowing what plants and animals they share the world with, instead of being plugged into cable TV, computers and cell phones. Ironically, we would not know about these tribes without our modern communications.

What will this world be like when the last of our wild places are gone?

Or is that even possible? I remember also seeing stories and photos of homeless people homesteading in underground tunnels in big cities, or in tent cities under highway overpasses. In the midst of our biggest modern cities, there are campgrounds and squatters living in abandoned buildings and forgotten public places. No matter
whether they got there by choice or by circumstance, these wild urban places are home ot tribes of people living by their wits and survival instincts.

Dating back to the 60s, their were and still are rural areas where hippies set up communes, or their more sophisticated descendants, which are now called "intentional communities."

It seems as though we always want to have some wild places and some wild people, even if most of us will simply look at them as tourist attractions, like the wonderful national parks, which most visitors only drive through, rather than walk through.

This primal need we have is why events like Burning Man and other pagan festivals appeal to so many people, even though it is only a temporary event. For a week every year, these post modern settlers can create a temporary village completely apart from the rest of the world, and they make their own rules.

Will all the people living in the wild lose their places? Will they all move into cities, leaving the forests, mountains and jungles strictly as wildlife preserves and national parks? I don't think so. There will always be some who crave the wild, and will venture back into it. What will happen is that those older ways of living may be altered forever, tribal peoples will be scattered and relocated. But part of us never forgets.

The world needs the wild spirit.

1 comment:

Lisa Schiavone said...

Interesting how when people are facilitated into hypnotic inner journey, well over 90% go spontaneously to a place in Nature. When asked to find a "special place," the psyche chooses forests, meadows, streams, waterfalls, beaches; when asked to find a "sacred place," it spontaneously contacts feelings and images of venturing into caves, onto rock outcroppings, alongside healing pools. The psyche knows it needs a multi-sensory experience of Nature to bring itself to balance.