Becoming animal

As we rewild, we begin to tap into elements of human nature that have long been dormant within us. While some fear the primal, thinking it is violent, harsh, or brutal, most people feel that this “inner wild creature” is profoundly curious, compassionate, peaceful, and adventurous (even if some of those qualities seem to be contradictory).

To become animal, find a natural setting where people won’t be alarmed to see someone crawling around. If you are private, you can remove your clothing. Set aside a half hour or longer to make your shift there and back again. Then, walk into the edge of your area, get down on all fours, and transform.

Feel your fingers spread into the soil or leaves. Take a long, deep breath through your nose, noting any scents. Let your visual field extend out to the full range of your peripheral vision. Then, begin exploring. Smell the soil. Turn over that log. Climb up into a tree. If there are wild edibles that you are familiar with, graze upon them.

Let your human mind fall away, and your curiosity lead you. Crawl into a patch of briars. Follow a line of tracks. Sit and watch a snail leave its slime-trail over a leaf. There is an immense world here waiting for you, full of sights and smells and sounds and feelings and tastes.

Go as deeply into this new way of being as you like, but when you are ready to come back out, sit on your haunches, breathe deeply, and then stand up onto two legs, becoming human again. Consider how it felt to “lose yourself” in this way. Were you lost, or found?

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