"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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wild Tiger

There is a wild animal inside of me.

He is a tiger, and he is currently in a cage.  He does not want to be domesticated.  He does not want to be cute and cuddly.  He has been pacing. And pacing.  And pacing.  And planning his escape.

Sometimes I feel him bump up against the inside of my ribs, or my gut, or my brain.  He is pushing on all surfaces, trying everything to escape back into the wild.  He flares his lips and roars a deep, vibrating roar.  He shows his fangs and does not apologize.

He is not angry.  He is not vengeful.  Do not anthropomorphize him with unnecessary emotion.  He is simply wild, and very, very out of place.

I don't really know how he got there.  Perhaps I was born with him inside.  Perhaps as I've grown, so has he.  I've felt his paws nudge me at moments throughout my life.  When I was stuck in something that wasn't right for me - a relationship, a town, a job, a mindset - he began pacing.  And pawing.  And sending low grumbles of a roar through my body.  Warnings.


I've been feeling him lately.  Pacing, pawing, grumbling, roaring.  I hear him as I sit in traffic on the beltway.  I feel him in in the tears that have become a regular part of my morning commute.  I see him in my dreams at night.  I wake up flailing in bed, moaning from an endless string of nightmares.


I try to talk to friends and family about this tiger.  I can't call him a tiger, of course.  No one would actually believe that I have a wild animal living inside of me.  But I tell them about how I know it is time for me to go.  Not soon.  Not in the summer.  NOW.

And they tell me all the things that humans say, of course.  "There are lessons to be learned in finishing things well.  Just hang in there."  GROWL.  "Be grateful for this opportunity to grow."  GROWL.  "Find enjoyable things to do while you're still here in Maryland."  GROWL.

I know they mean well.  I would say the same things to me if I were them.  They just don't know about the tiger.  They can't understand that he is not patient.  He does not care about the polite, responsible thing to do.  He doesn't even know what that means.  All he knows is that he is wild, which makes me wild, and that the both of us, together, are in the wrong place.

I don't know what will happen to me if I don't give him what he wants, and soon.  I fear that he will claw right through my center and tear me to shreds in his caged-up fury.  But although I live with a tiger, I'm not a tiger.  I do care about the right thing to do.  I don't want to disappoint people or fail to live up to my word.  How can I explain that to him?  He is not a good listener.

I think those close to me are starting to notice that something is off.  This tiger is making me act strangely. I'm not my best self.  People wonder if I'm depressed.  They can't be around me for too long.  They don't know that I'm just trying to hold this tiger at bay for a few more months.  I wish they knew how hard it is to control a wild tiger - especially one that is currently pacing in between your ribs, poking the soft, fleshy places with his claws.

So I have been sleeping a lot lately.  It is quite exhausting trying to be a mediator between the tiger inside and the rest of the world outside.  While I understand both of them, they don't seem to understand each other.  Do they need to?

I have spent much more time trying to appease the world outside, because that is what everyone else sees.  But my tiger doesn't like that.  He doesn't like that at all.  So lately, I've been giving in to the tiger, in little places here and there.  Doing what I want and not doing what I don't want, regardless of whether the outside world understands.

But the tiger wants more.  He wants bigger movement.  Bigger change.  He wants the wild.  And his claw is piercing out from my heartspace even as I write this.  His roar is rattling through my chest.  Can't you hear it?

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