At the moment I am engaged in a new book project that with the title Uncultivated. The book is built around negations of what I have chosen to call “the ten commandments of cultivation”. The intention herewith is to challenge taken-for-granted cultural and societal “truths” and assumptions and to promote a rewilding of the cultivated human being.
It is a work in progress, and hence, changes are constantly being made. But currently the ten commandments are the following:
- We must behave and adapt
- We are superior to animals
- We are seperated from nature
- We must be ambitious
- We must work hard
- We must consume
- What we cannot explain is not true
- We do not talk about death
- We must defeat decay
- We must live in the now
The book is build up around anecdotes and explores the benefit of fostering uncultivated living and interconnectivity with our natural surroundings as well as our fellow humans. The following short extract is taken from Chapter 3: We are separated from nature, from a subsection called Into the wild.
My husband grew up in Montana in North America. And his tales of him driving into the wilderness each weekend as a teenager, just him and his dog, always fascinated me, and when we first met, I couldn’t get enough of him talking about his wilderness. He would say: I didn’t speak to anyone for days; it was just me and Ben (his dog). We walked far, far into the mountains and camped by lakes and rivers. I fished and cooked the fish over bonfires. I never slept better than when I slept in my small tent with Ben next to me in the middle of nowhere.
I was in awe. The thought of being all alone in the wilderness (a wilderness, mind you, that contains grizzly bears, wolves, coyotes and mountain lions) frightened me, and by him stating that he never slept better, felt calmer, felt more at home, he shook up my fundamental assumptions on navigating wild nature and on feeling at home in the world. Tell me more, I would always say, eager to understand the feeling of resting in a tent in the middle of the wilderness. It was just so peaceful, he would say. Were you never afraid? I would ask. No, never. I belong there.
Later on, he took me there many times. To his sanctuary. And I understood. I never felt afraid either.
Now our sons love his stories of him growing up in Montana. They will say: tell us again about when you walked through the lake to the small island, with Ben swimming next to you, and your backpack held high over your head; was the water freezing? (yes, I couldn’t feel my feet, he will say, but it was ok, because we dried up quickly at the fire I made once we reached the island). Or tell us about that night when an intense thunderstorm surprised you, and you had to hold on to the sides of tent all night so it wouldn’t fly away – weren’t your scared? (yes, a little, he will say, but I knew the storm would pass, and by morning the forest was calm again, and the sun came out). Or about all those times you camped in the snow; were you never cold? He will smile and say, no never! I would snuggle up with Ben in my backpack and sleep like a baby.
Then the boys will say: tell us more stories; tell us about that time you and your friends jumped from the car bridge into the Yellowstone River, and one of your friends went through a dead cow that was floating in the water! He will laugh and tell them once again – my friend was cut up pretty badly by the cow’s ribs, he will say, and the boys’ eyes will be as big as teacups. Or tell us about that summer when you worked for your friend’s dad taking groups on horseback through the Rocky Mountains; did you really see big grizzly bears and hear packs of wolves howling at night? Yes, he will say, but as long as you respect their habitat and keep a distance, they are not dangerous to humans.
All of those stories are characterised by an inherent sense of belonging, fundamental trust and of interconnectivity between human beings and our natural surroundings that always fascinated me, and now mesmerises our sons. This sense of belonging is a fundamental part of my husband. A part that he never dismissed.
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