George Manbiot: An Excerpt on Being Alive

“Of all the species that need rewilding, I think human beings come at the top of the list.” ~ George Manbiot


As I sat warming my hands by a fire getting whipped and damn near blown out by the wind on a cold March evening to please my boys who desperately wanted to test their mettle in such conditions, my mind wandered to an interview I had read earlier that day with George Manbiot (1). Manbiot wrote a book titled, “Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding,” that was released in 2013 in England. It is receiving great acclaim and will be released in the U.S. this year. In it he was asked, “Why do you think the notion of rewilding has been so provocative?”

My sense is that people like me are ecologically bored, that we possess the psychological equipment required to navigate a world that is far more challenging than our own – a world of horns and tusks and fangs and claws. Yet our lives have been reduced to the point at which loading the dishwasher seems to present an interesting challenge.

…I think all of us have a sense that we’re not quite fulfilling our potential as the human beings who evolved in this really quite thrilling and exciting and dangerous environment, and that our lives are a bit too small and too constrained.

I think rewilding, or certainly the version of it that I’ve been suggesting, has appealed to people both because it gives hope, in that we can reverse some of the horrible destructive processes of which we’re all aware, but also because it introduces into our lives this element of wonder and delight which is too often missing.

Pulling the beanie tight over my ears and hunkering down next to the fire for warmth against the hard, cold wind at my back, my cell phone playing folk music up on a tree above my head, I wondered how much more alert or alive I would feel sitting by this fire if there were lions, elephants, or birds with 26 foot wing spans hidden out there in the shadows. I smirked to myself as I thought that the scariest animal I bump into regularly are cows out on my trail runs and how despite their docility, I still hate running by them. Even they instill a streak of fear in me as I imagine one charging from 10 yards away.

Though we often don’t think about it in our incubated lives, getting outside, sleeping on the cold, hard ground, and enduring bad weather enables us to appreciate so much more the comforts of home. It is good to get out in the wild and to be touched by it, thrilled by it, scared by it, if for nothing else than to test our mettle and try to answer the nagging question, “Do I have what it takes? Somewhere deep inside, do I have a hidden strength and fortitude to survive?”

(1) The Great Rewilding, The Orion (Jan/Feb 2014). Jennifer Sahn.


Posted on March 14, 2014, in Health & Wellbeing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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