In 1969 Dennis Hopper took a maturely modest approach to cinematic shorthand when Wyatt and Billy rode into hearts and homes as two Southern Californian Harley Riding Hippies who complete a drug deal and then ride off on a journey of spiritual enlightenment seeking truth, peace and happiness in Nixon’s America. Watching Western’s with my Dad back in the day I noticed that they always put the good guys in white hats, omitting minutes of unnecessary explanation at the beginning of every movie. Instead of weighting the viewer down with colorless facts, Hopper brilliantly applied this approach to a Motorcycle movie and it worked. The Soundtrack to Easy Rider was a blazing success as well, 49 years later Steppenwolf’s Born to Wild, which was their first successful single, still gets tons of radio play. The minute it comes on the radio I can’t force my hips to stay still and I am convinced, more than ever, that I was indeed “Born to be Wild”
The truth is we all are.
The last couple of days have been extremely uncomfortable for me and influenced by some shitty ups and downs. I have come to the conclusion that often when I feel frustrated and upset I attack myself and I become disappointed in myself. I am beginning to see very clearly that these periods of discomfort are the consequence of a huge inner battle. An uneasy conflict between my comfort zone and my true nature; my desire to grow. Every time I fight what is in front of me, the path that I am stepping into, I am unnerved.
For years society has put us into well arranged and tidy roles, organized by labels and ill fitting boxes.
I for one feel fucking cramped!!!
Our comfort zone keeps us safe and cozy because it is familiar and even though staying firmly rooted in it may not always be the healthiest or wisest choice, we find relief in what we know.
What happens when we outgrow the box, when jamming ourselves into that stupid box every single day, and lining up in a neat and tidy row makes us sad and sick? Do we shrink to fit; do we dim our lights to fit into a dreary row? Do we trade our freedom for the titles that society bestowed on us? We are men, women, mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, leaders, role models…there are expectations and responsibilities for us after all.
I am a wild woman. My true nature is freedom. I will not be bound by a role that society defined for me. I will not shrink into a well labeled, neatly organized box.
Do you know what I mean by the Titanic pose?
Do you ever imagine yourself as Rose at the railing of the Titanic with your arms outstretched, wind in your hair and that feeling of flying? Rose was fighting against the pressures of a relationship that made her feel dead inside. She was about to trade, liberty and choice for money and esteem, a life that would diminish her in all of the truly important ways. We see it so very clearly on the big screen, cinematic magic sweeps us into a place where for a short time we can imagine being Rose, we understand her restraints and we understand the wild independence she longs for. Alas, the credits roll and we say goodbye to the beautiful fantasies that will live only in our memories because we cannot possibly have everything we want in life and still feel free! Can we?
I think we can. I think it is possible.
Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.
~ Stephen Covey
When I lost my husband Kirk to the devastating effects of depression and mental illness I knew immediately that to honor him I had to live my best life, a life full of the lasting peace and joy that he so very much desired. The second I knew he was gone I was hit in the face with the reality that it would be me teaching our children how to move forward gracefully, how to embrace life and live big. Every bit of me knew how important it would be to embark on a journey with myself and take the time to fully be with me, void of the labels of wife, spouse or widow. I very much wanted to free myself from the societal fabricated restraints of what it meant to live and heal and grieve.
I learned from Anne Lamont that laughter is carbonated holiness and Glennon Doyle Melton reminded me that there is sacredness in tears and I learned that I can experience both of those things quite intensely without one experience diminishing the other.
Grief has become my teacher.
In the last several months I am working towards who I want to be in the world and sometimes I feel unnerved because parts of me are being stripped away, parts of me that I have held unto with bloody knuckles because it is all I have ever known.
There is a freedom in reclaiming the wild-hearted person you were always meant to be but sometimes you feel unrecognizable to yourself and that can be scary. It can often be mistaken for feeling broken but I truly believe it is healing and becoming.
Grief really makes you take a look at life and consider the impermanence of it all. Life, love, it is all transitional, fleeting. Like the waves of the ocean (thanks Roberta Shephard) we can drown trying to hold unto all of it, some things are not meant to be bound.
I see my friends in various stages of discontent, holding unto things that cause them hurt or things that take away their freedom, relationships defined by chains, and expectations, magnifying insecurities and creating resentments. We have been doing things all wrong for so long!!
From the time I was a little girl I can recall a saying that I believe my mom taught me, “When you love something set it free, if it comes back to you it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was”
I loved that saying forever but I want to change it up just a bit, people do not belong to each other, we are not objects and we belong only to ourselves. If we love someone we should ALWAYS, no matter what the circumstances, want them to feel free. Anything else is not love, it is fear based on attachment and the want for comfort and security. Sometimes our true power lies not in holding on with bloodstained hands but in letting go and finding our own way to create happiness and freedom.
The truth is that death has a lot to teach us about love and living. I feel deep gratitude that I had the opportunity to love a person so deeply, that even in his physical absence he is able to guide, support and encourage me. I am reminded every single day that true love should feel like pure freedom and the importance of loving and supporting myself so that when the time comes that romantic love comes knocking, I will answer the door because I have love to give, not because I desperately need love. I think that is a very important distinction in our relationships.
We were not born wild and free only to allow ourselves to be bound by chains. As my talented friend Charlie A ‘Court croons, chains of love, are chains just the same.
Just for a second today, imagine yourself standing at the railing of the Titanic with the ocean breeze in your hair, arms outstretched like you can fly, or imagine yourself on the top of a mountain, lungs on fire but arms in the air, relishing not in just the view from the top but the tenacity it took to climb it, that is freedom. Feel it, love it, and crave it.
You too, were born to be wild.
Make your moments count, make a difference and make sure that you live and love in a way that allows you and others to feel free.
We are driven by five genetic needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun.