What is the message that wild animals bring, the message that seems to say everything and nothing? What is this message that is wordless, that is nothing more or less than the animals themselves- that the world is wild, that life is unpredictable in its goodness and its danger, that the world is larger than your imagination. – Rebecca Solnit
My most profound experiences in life have all happened in nature. I can clearly remember the feeling as the breath caught in my throat when an enormous elephant bull walked up to my tent in the moonlight and placed his trunk on the canvas between us. He stopped to draw in my scent, leaving behind a stream of mucous to remind me how close he had been before he lumbered into the night. I had felt the presence of a wild, six ton elephant mere centimeters from my head with nothing between us but a sheet of canvas. It was pure exhilaration.
I remember the first time I heard the whooping call of hyenas as a child. They were interspersed with the melancholy of the repetitious good god deliver us from a fiery-necked Nightjar. When I sit quietly in the dark and listen now, their calls still taunt me, calling me into the night and the sense of aliveness that comes with danger, haunting and yet comforting me with the understanding that their wildness is our wildness too.
And I remember every time a leopard has chosen to walk within reach of me, showing its dappled coat, which speaks of a life of mystery. As their silent footsteps fall beside me and I watch perfectly designed muscles ripple beneath that coat, I am called home to myself.
As I sit amongst a herd of a thousand noisy buffalo, moving in unison to a waterhole trailed by a cloud of disturbed dust, I am invited into awe and reminded that I am never truly alone. Reminded that I too fall into the grand mastery of nature’s intricate web.
These moments were not created by these creatures for us and yet in their complete oneness with themselves these wild animals are our greatest teachers. In a glance, a curiosity, the pitch of a call or the grace of a movement, they remind us who we are and who we want to be. They remind us of our goodness and our danger, of our power and most importantly, our wildness.
We are all wild and yet so many of us pretend not to be. Imagine what could happen if we chose to embrace it instead…