I have trouble articulating Rewilding in traditional pedagogical terms.
I do not see it as project-based learning, service-learning or experiential-learning.
It is all of these things. But it is also more.
I see Rewilding as a quest, journey, or an odyssey.
I do not think of it in terms of “learning outcomes”.
I think of it in terms of an “awakening” or better yet a “transfiguration.”
You feel Rewilding.
And, when it is working, this is how it feels.
Just a warning, the following includes fantastical creatures and music…
We are on the move.
We are leaping, running, and flying.
We are swinging, swimming, and climbing.
We have taken off our masks, discarded our armor, and shaken off our human forms.
We have assumed our natural forms – the bugs, beasts and bird-like creatures we incarnate in our dreamscapes.
We are together.
We are wild.
We are free.
We are on the loose.
We dig holes in the dirt.
We dive the depths of the streams.
We wade through the thickets.
We sniff the air.
And, when one of us catches the scent of something good, we all come running.
We gather around.
We jostle for position.
We paw at it. We scratch at it. We peck at it.
We hoot. We grunt. We whoop.
We stomp. We trumpet. We haw.
But, then a caw comes from above.
There’s something worth investigating in the distance.
We are off.
And, once again, we are vaulting, springing, and bounding over the landscape.
What are we looking for?
It does not matter.
Why do we do this?
To be together.
But, we don’t stay together forever.
When the time comes, some spin off and go in their own direction.
But, others always appear to take their place.
And, when they do, we approach.
We extend them an invitation to join us.
Some says no.
We leave him behind.
Others say yes.
We leave them behind as well.
One of them gives chase.
She struggles to keep pace with us. That’s expected. She’s still a bi-pedal. Bi-pedals are slow.
But she doesn’t give up. She keeps running.
That’s even better.
Her brow perspires. Her body aches. And, her breathing grow thick with phlegm.
Her mind screams “Give Up! Give Up! Give Up!”
Her heart whispers “Keep Up. Keep Up. Keep Up.”
And, in her effort to stay abreast, something ignites deep inside the caverns of her heart. It’s called commitment. There’s this moment when she does. And, when she does, she transforms.
She sheds her submissiveness. She casts off her epidermis. She shakes her mane.
She picks up speed. Catches up. Keeps stride with us. Feels that feeling that binds us together. Keeps us together. Draws us together.
She feels agency.
And, what does agency feel like?
It feels like limitlessness.
It feels like this song.
We were all once captured and caged.
I was caged for almost forty years.
I suckled on the water bottle hanging in the corner of my cage. I nibbled on the uniformly shaped food provided by my masters. I was declawed, defanged, and domesticated.
I could even perform tricks.
We wage an epic struggle within ourselves each and every day. It is a struggle between our souls and the corporeal shells that contains them. Our bodies want to be fed, watered, and sheltered.They want to be warm when its cold. They want to be cooled when its hot. They want to be kept dry when it rains. They crave comfort. They crave security. They crave the physical contact of others. We cannot supply all of these things all the time on our own. We need the assistance of others. We need to be part of a group. So, we worry about what others think. We worry about being accepted. We desire to be accepted. The survival of our corporeal shells depends on the uninterrupted supply of these things. Fear that these things will be taken away has us taking actions that are not always in our best interest. Fear distracts us from our purpose.
What is our purpose?
I am not completely sure.
But, here is what I know.
I do know that I cannot find my purpose in the pursuit of comfort and material possessions.
I do know that I will realize my purpose when I liberate myself from the expectations of others, when I let loose my weird.
My liberation lies in owning my weird.
But, my liberation cannot be accomplished alone.
I need the assistance of others. I need to be inspired, nudged, and pushed by others.
I need a pack.
There was a time when I looked at others living outside their cages with envious eyes and a jealous heart.
I believed that their existence threatened my existence.
I was wrong.
There existence simply reminded me of my own self-imposed slavery.
I craved another habitat. Our natural habitat.
The place where we feel free to find our funky. Be our funcky.
I craved to be released.
But, I worried.
Is this for me?
Am I worthy?
Will it be okay?
I paced the edges of my cage.
But, over time I learned to trust my instincts, trust my heart, and trust my strengths.
It was an iterative process of finding what works and what does not.
It was a messy process of making mistakes.
I was intentional about the books and music and images I allowed into my life.
I took responsibility for my own captivity.
And, I gave myself permission to leave.
Agency is a gift that we must give to ourselves.
But, it is also a collective process.
I did not realize it alone.
I surrounded myself with people who shared a similar quest – family, friends, colleagues and my students.
Agency is a gift that we can give to each other.
Transfiguration is the
outcome gift of Rewilding.