Feral—A Subversive Return to Your Wildest Truest Self

Jun 26, 2022

I slipped into the woods today. Down the dusty road from our house, through the fern where the rock garden sprouts from the earth, circles of stones, miniatures of the ancient Celtic monoliths. Someone has nestled shimmering glass rondures in a nest of bark among the stones.

I find the hidden path, the one I discovered a few months ago on a quest to reach my favorite trail without navigating the main road to get there. Someone has tied a rope to a tree deep in the woods at the top of the steep slope, making the descent manageable. 

When I reached the end of the rope, it seemed symbolic. Are we not all at the end of our ropes now? Overwhelmed. Grieving. Scared. Angry. 

But I was here now. Beyond the reach of the jurists who would control my body. Away from the media reporting horrific story after horrific story, speculating on what's to come.  In this place I was left to myself. I was feral.

Feral. The word echoed over and over through my mind as words do when they are trying to get my attention. Its wildness soaked into me. I felt the ground beneath me shifting beyond domesticity into a new unruly terrain.

Why was this feral state significant? Like everyone else who's dismayed by this country's recent failures to regulate guns alongside their utter zeal for regulating women's bodies, I have felt like I should be doing something. Something more than posting. I don't want my contribution to be performative. I want to do my part to fix this mess that is so big it will drain every bit of my energy if I let it.

Today my contribution was subversive ferality. No, I don't know if that's a real word. And I don't much care. That penchant for giving the middle finger to rules is the essence of ferality. Pardon me while I stop and smile at the autocorrect I had to fix twice, hell bent as it was on making my ferality into fertility. I mean, can the irony get any grander?

In my ferality, I noticed the stream still flowing, without a care about any law other than Mother Nature's. Could I do the same, even if just for an hour? Would that plunge me back into the self-sovereignty that felt increasingly threatened by outside forces. 

What if I brazenly took it back? Not asked for it, argued for it, petitioned for it or protested for it. Just claimed it for my own. And so I did in the woods by myself, wild haired and makeup-free.

I tromped through the creek, sat on a log, noticed the changes in the foliage since I'd last been down here. I noticed everything. Breathed it in until everything that wasn't within sight, smell or reach disappeared. It was a radical reclamation.

We can get so caught up in the need to fight, that we forfeit all the moments that add up to the one wild and precious life we've been given. People often cite the Mary Oliver poem that uses that phrase to incite productivity, creativity and accomplishment.

But read the poem yourself. It is called The Summer Day, and it is about ferality (my word, not hers!) on a day not unlike this one. One which beckons to us ceaselessly with actions and bequests to mend the gaping holes that threaten to consume us all. It is about going outside and into the grass and noticing what is there. Just noticing. That's it. That is your activism for this day. And it is enough.

As my friend Sheila Hall wisely said in our IG chat this weekend. "All the action required here is just one more way the patriarchy can extort time and money from women. I'm tired of spending my free time and fun money to support causes that are basic freedoms." You too?

I will leave you with this question. Who were you before the world trapped you with its rules?  That is your feral self.

And I will leave you with this assignment. Go outside and find her—in the moonlight if you live somewhere with unbearable summer temperatures. Stroll, explore, adventure, notice and observe. Nothing outside your five senses is allowed to interrupt you. Unless you have a sixth sense, then use it to its full ferality!

Don't you love that word? Me too. Now go be wild and free. There will be time for protests and petitions. First we feral. Then we fight.

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