The jungle has a tendency to transform those who enter it. There are the obvious, external signs. I have the borders of 3 different sports bras tanned acutely into my skin. My legs are consistently scattered with cuts and abrasions, tangible reminders of the evolutionary disdain of the grasses and plants I trample through. As for my toenails, well, I’m fairly certain they’ll never be toenail-colored again.
What flesh conceals, however, is the internal transformation I undergo as a result of my inhabitance in the wild. I came into the jungle anxious to morph into an improved version of myself. I wanted more of all that is good- courage, muscle, innovation, knowledge, efficacy. More than anything, I craved independence, and a heightened confidence in my abilities. Stealthily, the jungle has offered me these opportunities. To be able to rely on one’s self is an empowering reality. When I wake up each day, I feel the presence of possibility. I feel self-assured in my ability to carry out the tasks that I set for myself. Most importantly, I possess optimism for my progression. For that which I cannot do physically, I will strengthen myself. For that which I cannot do logistically, I will learn.
While in the jungle, my mind is constantly activated. I find myself asking more questions than ever before. Most are, by nature, unanswerable…for now, at least. I wonder if I’ll ever gain the wisdom to transform questions into declarations. As long as I remain in so conducive an environment, I am optimistic. I find experiences to be the food of the mind. Just as the body cannot function physically without nourishment, neither can the mind hope to flourish without environmental sustenance. The wild stimulates me. I listen more, I look more. I read, write, and learn more. I become more.
I’ve now lived a month in the inexpressible glory of the jungle. I grow exceedingly more convinced in its absolute essentialness to the prosperity of mankind. How will man grow if there’s no emerald haven he can turn to for peace, for chaos, for a challenge? We, as a species, sink into a sedative mindset. Yes, air conditioning is lovely, and I’ve never appreciated couch cushions as I do now. But to maintain the creativity, originality, and innovation which mark the groundbreaking tendency of our genus, we need more than super highways and shopping malls. We need a mountain to shame us with its massive impassibility. We need a river to cross, one that wipes us clean of our literal and metaphysical dirt. We need to contemplate life on a favorite rock.
Civilization needs the wild.