Brighter Things is Steven Jackson, an Alabama-based songwriter making music and words fit together so life might make more sense.  Music released here, free, weekly-ish. Sign up to get notifications of new songs & videos.

A Home in the Wild

A Home in the Wild

What’s our fascination with books and movies like “Into the Woods,” “Everest,” … “Wild”? Why do I sit in my heated house with a perverse longing for living in a yurt after I just watched Emile Hirsch go crazy and die in a frozen abandoned bus? I used to think it had something to do with a sense of adventure and the unknown. And maybe that’s partially right.

Instead of being “wild” and “unpredictable,” I’d argue that our yearning for getting lost in nature is a keen knowing that nature is quite predictable and we are already at peace in knowing we can’t control it. We’re happy to prepare, submit and make the most of it because, after all, we chose to be there.

Standing in the “wild” of Costco is scarier. And your job? More dangerous to your health than a grizzly. Kids? There’s no beast in nature that’s as terrifying as the idea that us idiots are responsible for them staying alive, much less, being well-adjusted people who won’t do something stupid like give away all their money and die in the woods. If it’s hard to breathe, make no mistake, we ARE huffing our way up Everest. 

So here we are. With every luxury imaginable in our air-conditioned mansions, while our little animals yelp and claw ’til we finally get some sleep. And we dream of being stuck on an deserted island with a volleyball because it might be easier. It would, at least, be quieter.

Then it’s back to Costco where we dodge other trekkers running to buy the supplies they’ll need to make it through whatever emotional weathering this week will bring. But it looks less like Walden and more like “The Truman Show.” And our bodies and brains believe the script. We will check off these boxes and life will go smoothly. When it doesn’t we are angry, depressed and frustrated with ourselves. 

How could it have taken me 40 years and overwhelming doses of love and Prozac to understand that the storms that come our way are just the nature of things? Our cozy, manufactured, reality makes us feel like we have the right to feel anxious or upset by the unfair nature of loss, sickness, hardship, pain and suffering. Many of us become addicts trying to outrun the avalanche of uncertainty that a day brings.

But we can’t outrun or disappear into the wild. We are in it. That place with the trees and fresh air, – where the sun comes up and then goes down without judgement – it’s just the basis for my new movie, set in a Costco. Where instead of my normal panic attacks and hitting the cheap wine aisle, I embrace the crazy like I would a rainstorm.

I’m learning to make a home, here, in the wild.

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