Wild at Heart
I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather
that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze
than it should be stifled by dryrot.
I would rather be a superb meteor,
every atom of me in magnificent glow,
than a sleepy and permanent plant.
The proper function of a man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them
I shall use my time.
– Jack London
Need I say more? Boys are wild creatures, born wild into a strange captivity. Captivated by not only rules or society, but also by their own bodies. It would occur to me that the spirit of a boy knows no boundaries. Those must be learned along the path of growing into a man. So one would question then, how it is to sustain, and nurture that spirit, all the while teaching boys how to honor the limits of their bodies, and their environments. They must be let out into the wilderness. Some more than others. They must be allowed to learn, explore and grow in nature. God’s own creation for man….the wild. How does this translate into modern-day living, one may ask, when we are in a time, more now than ever, that we are removed from the wild, from nature itself? We must create it, we must seek it out. As parents of boys, it is up to us to ensure the vitality of our young mens hearts by allowing, and often times creating wildness in their lives. This is how a boy grows up, and learns to be a man. A provider, a rescuer, a survivor, an archetypal warrior, or a knight in shining armor; the wilderness is where he learns the difference between beauty and beast. This is where he learns when restraint is needed, and when it must not get in the way. This is where he learns to fight the good fight, but also when the battle must be won with gentleness. He must be provided with free time to explore, hunt, play, climb, to test his physical body to the limits. To find those boundaries within himself not only in physical form, but also within his own soul. A boy without a wilderness, will start to wither. His body will not be strong, nor will his faith, nor his heart. My boys are wild at heart. They need constant releasing into the wilderness. For us this translates into the 40 acres around our homestead that we are blessed with. For others, it may mean going to the park, climbing the tree in the backyard, creating a play garden complete with hiding places, and secret forts. It may mean fishing trips and family vacations to a wild space, but whatever your wild looks like, be sure to create it, to nurture it, and to allow the time and space for it. This may mean letting go of other obligations that are on the calendar. This may mean that you need to create it, and make it happen, that you may need to schedule it. Sometimes we as a family, decide to let go of other obligations so that we can allow a wild soul to take up refuge in a wild sanctuary. Whatever it may be, it’s time to prioritize, it’s time to feed the souls of our boys, it’s time to take refuge in nature. Unplug their minds, and plug-in their hearts, bodies, and souls. There comes a time for all mamas to begin to cut the apron strings. If we do not our boys become ensnared in them, and the struggle only grows stronger as they do, and we both suffer. Luckily for me, and I will also say for us as a family, since I am raising four boys who were born with the wild hearts of warriors, I too, am wild at heart. A mama who knows the draw of the wild, who hears the callings of the wilderness upon her heart. Sometimes it whispers, and sometimes the call is so loud it is all I can hear. The pull is strong, and the need is insatiable at times. We must retreat, we must rebuild, and restore the wild within our hearts. A wise mama knows how to do this from the start. The wilderness is a boys’ first classroom. One without doors, without desks, and without limitations, except their own boundaries. First we must allow, then we must teach. Let them learn some of the wilds lessons on their own, but also create balance and tenderness, by teaching them. Teach them how to nurture a wounded baby bird. Teach them how to not stomp on everything they see, but to explore it, to use their senses, to trust it. Feel the textures in nature, the scents, the explosive and dramatic colors, and even the tastes, as we learn how to forage the safe, and avoid the dangerous. Nurture the man-child’s soul without suppressing it. This is our goal. This is how a wild mama knows that her boys will be safe in the wilderness. She shows them how. She suggests boundaries that they will test, and their boundaries will often encircle a larger space than mamas. That is ok, we have given them a starting place, they do not need to limit themselves to our boundaries, but learn to create their own that are appropriate for them. So where does this leave our daughters you ask? Some of our daughters are wild at heart, too. As much as I am a daughter of the wilderness, we need to also ensure that our daughters are allowed to release captivity for a time and allow their hearts to become freed through nature. Much the same as our boys, we must create, allow, and nurture this relationship within their souls. It is here that they too, will learn boundaries, that they will know how to hear the whispers upon their hearts, and will understand the wildness inside a man’s soul. They will know the longing, and also the adventure. They will create from nature, learn her secrets, and how to nurture those that they love. I speak from my own heart, and my own experience, as I was blessed only with boys. We must allow our daughter’s to guide us. We must be sure that they have free time to explore in nature, even if they are exploring alongside their mamas. Go for walks, build forts, be creative with nature’s gifts. Create play spaces for all of our children to explore, imagine, develop their senses, and create their own souls, their own identities. Create their Wild Hearts. Have the strength to live their dreams. Reach for the sky, while keeping their feet grounded in soil. Let your little ones grow, and blossom into the amazing creatures that they were created to be.
Let them live wild.