"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
To say that I have been busy at work lately is laughably mild.
I have been working between 9 and 12 hours a day every day for two weeks now. Parent-teacher conferences are happening, which means not only am I meeting with the parents of the students in my advisory, but managing all of the concerns that come out of all other conferences in the middle school (which are few, but immediate - like parents knocking down my door with an emergency about algebra placement or high school entrance exams or some other obviously life-or-death situations). Also, we are being visited by an accreditation committee next week to observe our school after a year-long self-study which I have co-clerked, which means I am scrambling to carefully do a final read-through of a several-hundred page document with a fine-tooth comb. Also, our middle school play is next week, which I am directing.
Every time I begin working on one thing, someone knocks on my door needing me for something else. I have been having days where the first item on my to-do list gets started at 8:30am and not visited again until 4:00pm. Days where it takes me 40 minutes to walk down the hall to turn my attendance sheet in to the main office because so many people stop me, needing me for something on my way. And each of the things people need me for require me to do some kind of follow-up once I get back to my office. Days where I need to use the bathroom for an hour before I get a chance.
I have not been rock-climbing for over two weeks. (I had been going two to three times per week.) I have not been to yoga in over three months. I am losing out on sleep, not making time to read, missing quality time with friends, eating quick crappity-crap that is not healthy for me, losing muscle, gaining weight, and most importantly - I am out of sync with nature.
And yet, I'm getting so much done. I'm doing a "good job." I'm participating in this thing we call work that our culture rewards us for doing - the more, the better. Tame my wildness. Stick me in a temperature-controlled room and ask me to enforce rules that I don't necessarily agree with to pre-adolescents that I'd really rather just allow to run wild and free. Tell me I can't dance spontaneously or accidentally let my brastrap show or swear.
Don't get me wrong. I love my colleagues. I love my students. I even love their parents. But this sitting in front of a computer indoors thing is killing me very, very slowly. I let out my wildness in tiny bursts of steam, like a teapot with a broken whistle that lets out a long, breathless whine but is never permitted to scream full-blast, waking up everyone in the house with its unbridled squeal. I need to let it out!!
I listen to Eminem on the way home just to hear lots of wildly offensive inappropriateness and remind myself that not everything is neat and tidy and smiley and clean. I pierced my nose this weekend just to feel not so "pretty" and put-together; to add a little edge to what I see in the mirror.
Am I angry? No. Rebellious? No. Not in that teenagery-way where I'm trying to piss someone off on purpose or prove a point about my independence. Most of my steam-letting is private, in my own car, anyway. I'm not trying to make waves.
I'm feeling the pain of being disconnected from my ancestors - both human and non. This is not how we are meant to spend our days. Having spent so much time in the woods only makes it worse to be back here in these "little boxes." I know what it's like to go to bed with the setting of the sun and rise with its arrival in the morning. I know what it's like to bathe only in the river, cook only over a fire, and poop only in a hole in the ground that I dug with my hands. I know what it's like to sense a bear ahead on the path or fall asleep to a coyote's howl or stumble upon a fat snake before breakfast.
I don't even know what phase the moon is in right now or how many leaves are left on the trees at the top of the hill in the woods behind my house. These are problems - problems I feel in my deepest gut. My body can tell that things are not right.
I need to get back into the woods soon before I pierce something else or start singing Eminem loudly in the hallway at school.