I believe that inside all of us, there is a call for something wild, something that tells us that we are capable of a life much richer than the one we are living. It’s written plainly in the words of books and poems and movies, and if you search your own heart, I’d be willing to wager that you feel it too. There is a wild inside everyone that longs for a life of purpose and adventure; to experience things the way they once were when the world was new. It’s almost impossible to adequately describe what I mean when I say that there is a ‘wild’ in all of us, but I think it’s similar to our notion of ‘love,’ so I’ll use that idea and I’ll compare and contrast the terms to illustrate my point.
I think love is expressed differently for different people, and it doesn’t look the same for you as it does for me, and how we feel it is even different, but ultimately we’re getting at the same idea. Some say love is “sacrificially doing something for someone else’s best interest." Some think they’re in love when they like how someone makes them feel, but that’s not love, the same way that being wild doesn’t mean being reckless.
So, love is kind of this unidentifiable thing that no one has ever seen— we can only see manifestations of it, and those manifestations look different for everyone, but we’ve come up with this word for it that we call “love” and there’s definitely a real version and a false version, so there’s a truth about it but we can’t clearly outline it without examples. Those manifestations aren’t love itself, but love is what motivates them, and they're the reason that we know love exists in others the way it exists in ourselves.
This is kind of what I mean when I talk about the “wild” inside of people. It’s difficult to define, and the only way I know it exists is because I’ve seen evidence of it, not because I’ve seen the thing itself.
The only way we know this “wild” or “love” exists is the same way we know that wind exists, because we see how other things move when they’re near it, and we know what happens to us when we feel it. I can’t really tell you what it looks like, but I can tell you what happens to a person when they fall under its influence. It’s what makes someone climb a mountain; not for the view or the photograph, but for the feeling of having done it. It’s what makes people search the depths of knowledge through science, to look into things that have never been seen. But I can tell you that what we feel can never truly satisfied by the things of this world. No one has ever been content to climb one mountain, or to learn one thing. The “wild” keeps us looking for more.
Ultimately, I believe it’s something God put inside us to make us look for him, like a compass. We know it’s pointing toward something, but we don’t really know what that is unless we head north and see it for ourselves. some people know they have a compass, but never do anything about it. Some people don’t even know they have a compass, because they’ve been told it doesn’t exist… but it’s there, just like love and the wind. This compass is what calls us back to the way we were in the garden before the fall. The wild inside of us longs to be filled again with the spirit of the living God, to be restored along with the rest of nature. This is the only thing that can satisfy our longings for another country.
Now I realize that I've made the jump almost instantly from postulating that every person has an indwelling spirit of adventure, to my hypothesis that the judeo-christian God of the bible is the being that put that spirit of adventure into all of us to point us toward him. I realize that citing the bible as the basis for my belief and expecting you to find it equally as reliable would be folly. I realize that I have not yet led you along by the same breadcrumb trail that I have come to find myself, but it is my aim, in the subsequent essays and writings, to do just that.
I have known for some time that all the things of this world which I enjoy so much, are but a means to an end, and not an end in themselves, and this fact eats at my mind in such a way that I do not feel that I have told you the full truth if all I have done is theorize about nature. When even the most skilled master of each domain, whether it be science, nature, art, music, or mathematics comes to the end of himself, he finds that he is lacking a final answer, or a purpose for his striving. Once we have explored the reaches of the galaxy, and searched the depths of all knowledge under the sun, what will be the ultimate end? Can we ever know all there is to know, or explore all there is to explore? And what is our motivation for pulling tirelessly on these threads of knowledge, unless we hope to find something at the end of them?
May this essay be the pivotal point, the crux, the hinge on which all of my writings hang. I have pointed out in myself, and you, and many others, the longing for the examined life; now I will point you toward the measure, the rule, and the standard.