A ReWilded Kitchen, A ReWilded Life
This is the beginning of an essay that originally appeared in Plant Healer magazine. The complete version will be found in my upcoming book of essays that I’m planning as a companion to my cookbook.
Food- A Primal, Primary Focus
Anima teaches that every moment is a decisive moment, and our reality in part a product of our choices. Picture the life you’ve always wanted, yours for the manifesting. Picture no more compromising of your wants and needs, no more being resigned to obligations or subject to those who would judge and guilt trip you. Imagine your future as a blank canvas, and you equipped with every color of paint with which to created the healthful existence you deeply crave. Where, and with whom would you live? What would you do with your precious mortal hours? What acts of creativity would you focus on, and revel in? How and what would you eat?
Perhaps this last question seems a bit superfluous. But what would happen if we considered what we eat – and how we eat – as crucial a choice as where and how we live, and who we live with? What if we acted as if dedication to eating well was one of the most powerful acts of not just healing but creativity, connection and purpose? In earlier times, the gathering or growing of our own food made disconnection nearly impossible. Now, a great number of us have the luxury of being dangerously detached from and unmindful of our food. We can even still eat fairly “healthy” food, without having to spend hardly any time preparing it. Now that we have more time to spend on other things, what is that are we losing, what essentially human experiences are we missing out on?
Continue imagining, the joy of sitting around a campfire at sunset, eating foods we’ve gathered or grown and cooked ourselves, after a long day of working out in the wind and sun. How good everything smells and tastes, mixed with woodsmoke and hunger! The feeling of wholly and consciously inhabiting our primal bodies, our every sense awakened… fully and truly alive! How can we bring the essence of those primal experiences into our lives more often? How can we re-become and celebrate the wild creatures we are at heart, in our everyday lives?
A Story of ReWilding
When I first came to the wilderness to live 24 years ago, I had romantic visions of subsisting on the fare of a monk. I looked the part pretty well at the time, with the slightly starved look I’d been cultivating in the city, complete with shaved head. I fantasized about losing yet another 10 pounds and writing the “Great American Novel” from a backpack full of old journals from my sad-café-days travels.
With teacher and (former) partner Wolf’s help, it only took about three weeks of helpful disruption and magic rethinking before I’d decided to burn the journals, give myself a new name, and pledge myself forever to the care of this ancient river canyon home and its precious riparian ecosystem.
For me, finding home was a crucial step in my reconnection with my body. Finally in a place where I could be wholly myself, and felt my sprit completely filled, I could begin to let go of my self-judgments, and enter into a new relationship with food. I put on a little weight, and although at first this was difficult for me, with time I was able to celebrate looking more womanly. I began to gather and prepare some wild foods, and found myself completely ecstatic. I learned how to cook with fire, and how to take care of food with no refrigeration. I learned to dance to the music of the wind, to an audience of sweet clover.
Not everyone yearns for a daily life that includes hauling water and wood, gathering food and preserving it, but it’s important not to forget we have choices. How we eat and what we eat is a huge, important consideration that is inextricably connected to where we live and how we live, the potential first step in the remaking and re-wilding of our moment to moment existence.
ReWilding Our Lives
ReWilding is term first coined by Jesse Wolf Hardin in 1980. “The root of the word ‘wild’ is willed,” he tells us, “ with each wild being informed, empowered and directed by its own inner nature rather than some external force or convention”. The process of rewilding involves the recovery of our inner nature and native will, unimpeached by often “distracting and destructive” society. Wild life is a piece of artwork for you to co-create, with your unlimited palette and designs.
These are things to consider, if we’re thinking about improving our experience of life. What do we truly find most nourishing? How might we make our lives more centered around the sources of that nourishment?
We could make self nourishment a central goal of our lives, shifting our priorities around at the deepest levels. We could identify those things/relationships in our lives that are draining our vitality, and refuse to give energy to them, no matter who is upset about it. Identify the hopes and dreams and practices that give us energy, and figure out how to focus more on those things. We could make our dreams a reality, live in the places our hearts call us to dwell or wander till we find that place even if it takes a lifetime. Envision life as a magical quest, with a goal being the embrace and expression of our own singing heart. We could shift our attitudes about livelihood, either letting our job be simply something we do so that we can spend the rest of our time focusing on things that nourish us, or else finding ways to make the things we love to do produce some or all of our necessary income. The key is giving ourselves permission to think of self nourishment as central and essential to our true well-being.
A ReWilded Kitchen & Home Life
Where would the kitchen of your dreams look like? Seek to find and create that, no matter how many changes or moves you’ve got to make, but don’t wait till some distant unforeseen day to begin developing the kitchen that fills not just your belly but your heart and spirit. Make the space where you prepare food as personal, beautiful and functional as you can within the scope of your present reality… while actively seeking to manifest the region, house, kitchen and foods that will best feed and restore the rewilding being you are.