The Wild Man: Break Free of Civilized Fear

I’d like to be a wild man.

No, I don’t want to live in rags, grunt, and carry a club.
But I do want to let go of the over-civilized me who is always trying to please someone. You know, the one who doesn’t want to be different, because it might offend someone?

I’m so sick of him.
He’s so frightened of taking off his mask, of stepping out of his routine of getting along, and getting by.
Why?

Sometimes I think he’s afraid of the anger and other negative qualities that might come bursting out if he loosened the chains. He tells me that I can’t be a decent person, and nobody will love me, unless I try to be just like everyone else.

Do I follow civil laws, common standards of behavior, or even spiritual/religious laws only because I’m afraid of disapproval or punishment?
What a coward!

There’s another way.
Each of us needs to have standards of behavior. You can’t make it all up on your own, and you certainly can’t do it in the moment that you have to make difficult choices and act.

What would life be like if I choose to accept standards for how to act, because I feel they are true and right, and put my heart into accepting them and following them?

Can you truly accept standards, and stop feeling that you were somehow suckered into following them? Then, it would be so much easier to stop fighting them in moments when doing the right thing is not the easy thing.
They would be your choices, your actions, and they would feel alive, instead of like chains that hold you back.

But didn’t I say that I want to be a wild man and stop trying to please everyone?
Yes, but I do believe that I need to internalize the difference between right and wrong.

I don’t think that being different is wrong. I don’t believe that I have to please everyone to be a good person. And I don’t have to stop caring about other people when I disagree with them.

The Mask of Civilization

How much of me is hidden behind the civilized mask that I wear? How much do I bury myself?

I’m not talking about controlling an impulse to hurt someone verbally or physically. I’ll always have to accept responsibility for that.

What I mean is: How many ways do you hold yourself back from changing, and from trying something new and unknown to the people around you?

The vast possibility that exists in each of us is like a wilderness. We’ve paved a few, thin paths that barely touch upon the thousands of miles within us, and we cling to those civilized, predictable paths.

Which will you choose? Do you settle for a few tiny paths, or a huge world waiting to be explored?

I want to be wild when it comes to taking action,
Even if the action is unclear, new, or frightening.
Even if other people are afraid of facing the action that’s needed

If I stopped being afraid of what other people think,
If I stopped measuring myself according to other people’s mediocre expectations,
Who would I be? Who would I become?

I want to be that wild man charging up the hill, wild and free.

Wild Man Exercise:

  • Find in yourself a feeling of restlessness, a discontent with the way things are, and a desire to break free of it all. We often hide from these feelings, because we think that we might totally disrupt our lives if we explore these feelings. Tell yourself that it’s just a daydream, just a story you’re telling yourself, or a story you’re reading.
  • While we often focus on our daily obligations and routines when we find our feelings of restlessness, the feelings are much deeper than that. Often, we take these powerful feelings and trap them in a little mental circle. We let ourselves feel frustrated about something over and over again with nowhere to go. Instead of focusing the restlessness on being stuck in our routines, let’s break out of the circle.
  • Close your eyes and imagine walking on a narrow sidewalk through a beautiful wilderness, wearing neat, formal clothes. If you’re a person who doesn’t visualize well, it doesn’t matter. You’ll probably find that your imagination works better with sounds, or with feeling yourself in a place. See yourself there, or hear everything around you, or feel yourself in the place, touching things all around you.
  • Feel the restlessness in your body, an urge to get off the path and go somewhere, anywhere else. Walk off the path into the forest.
  • Your neat, formal clothes have becomes loose, comfortable clothing. You’ve grown stronger, more muscular, and a little taller. You look back at the sidewalk, and it’s grown old. There are many cracks in the sidewalk, where plants are growing through it.
  • You feel a little afraid, and wonder how to find your way back to the safe, boring path.
  • Feel your fear as a feeling that goes in a circle, again and again. Then imagine yourself rising a few feet into the air, and you feel your fear, spinning in a circle below you.
  • Then you see that the sidewalk is a great circle going nowhere, and you see little animals, like squirrels, running around the circle, faster and faster.
  • Your restlessness returns and you turn back to the forest, and you see someone approach. He/she looks exactly like you, and is an even wilder, stronger version of you. You feel the strength and power and calm radiate from him. Spend a few minutes, just walking through the forest with your guide, and feel his strength.
  • See the wonder of this beautiful world through his eyes, without fear.
  • Then the two of you begin running faster and faster. You run without getting tired or sore. Every step takes you farther and farther, faster and faster into the wilderness, and you know that he will protect you.
  • You stop near a waterfall. With the sound of the waterfall all around, your guide puts his hands together, and a blue light radiates from his hands. You close your eyes, and your guide lays his hands over your eyes.
  • When you’re ready, gently open your eyes.

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