Typically, I try to bear in mind what would entertain my readers (read: my family) and hold onto that thought as I type up the shenanigans of my life and deranged gray matter (read: brain). Either that, or I just let my imagination run amok and type whatever makes me giggle like a little schoolgirl. However, I can’t help but get the feeling that this post might get a little real on you, America, so bear with me while I wax philosophical.
I recently started reading “Wild At Heart” by John Eldredge with a little encouragement from my wife…who just so happened to give the book to me as a Christmas gift. So far, the book makes it very apparent that it is about following basic urges that we were created to have, and not letting go of those temptations because society slaps us on the wrist with a metal-edged ruler and firmly exclaims, “NO!” making us feel like miscreants. It begins by claiming that we were formed in God’s image, and that image was born out of the dirt of His creation. (Go ahead and check the scripture if you feel the need; Genesis 2:7 – “Then the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground.”) Our image is a reflection of His creation. He created the land, water, and all the little creatures scurrying the globe before declaring that ALL of it was “good.” It was man’s idea to build shelter, villages, and cities in order to distance themselves from the “good” of “the wild.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I am certainly in no way considered a “man’s man.” I don’t like to get dirty, don’t feel comfortable manning a grill or building a fire. But I am a biker, and that’s my outlet. When I set out on my bike I experience and connect with the unadulterated, unabridged version of God’s creation. I don’t have metal wrapped around me and sheets of glass separating me from fresh air. I intentionally “get lost” on a very small scale by discovering new local areas. Nothing beats a long forgotten, abandoned highway scrolling through the untamed countryside. No emergency sirens blaring, car horns honking, airplanes landing, or traffic lights getting in the way. THAT is the root of my connection to the wild.
I camped as a child, and could not wait to grow up so I could make the decision to never do it again. I like convenience and comfort too much. Give me a pillow-top queen-sized bed, central air conditioning, and cable tv over muggy Indiana humid heat, sleeping bags that are NEVER long enough, and tossing and turning all night because my tent is placed on an intricate root system of the state’s biggest pine tree. Alas, my wife thought it would be fun to register for a tent and some sleeping bags for our wedding. Turns out, I didn’t argue too much. The thought seems fun now that I’m old enough to be in charge. It’ll be up to me to select the spot to set up camp, erect the tent, blow up the air mattress (because you can bet your ass I’m not giving up my pillow-top mattress!), and explore hiking trails, before lighting a fire and grilling up some hot dogs and hamburgers. Although, I can very well see all that changing once we get set up and I get bit by the first mosquito. Or realize that I don’t have access to the DVR. Until then though, I’m not-so-secretly excited about the prospect of a SHORT camping weekend.
The whole book is based on the idea of accepting your God-given heart and not denying natural tendencies to explore, no matter how much society tells us to “settle down.” It dares you to walk into church and look around at all the men and women in the congregation, noting that “gentlemen” and “ladies” are much more appropriate terms. Eldridge points his finger at society for turning guys into sissies who deny their preternatural desires to be adventurous because they have to be more concerned about being polite than just being. While I honestly don’t believe it was the author’s intent to encourage men from shirking responsibility, he makes it more than clear that when you feel the calling of the wild, then you shouldn’t plop down in your recliner and turn up the surround sound to drown out the voices ringing through. When you get a chance to go white-river rafting or hiking, don’t pass it up just because there’s a game on. Experience life as it was intended to be experienced. See the sights, smell the smells, then take a bath in tomato juice afterwards to mask the odor. Get out and do something.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go schedule a camping trip.
Thank you, that is all.