the nagging call of the wild
“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
– Jack London
It’s a quiet night at the cabin. There’s not much noise to be found excepting the hum of refrigerator when it kicks on and the occasional clinking of the wood stove as the metal heats and cools. There’s rain followed by snow in the forecast, so after work I spent the remainder of the afternoon bringing up extra firewood and making sure the horses got their oats and some extra hay. Honestly, it’s the most alive I’ve felt all week. This week has been mentally rough. All teachers reach burn out at some point, this year has certainly been taxing to say the least. Right now, I’m just pushing through and looking for high points. Just the simple act of collecting firewood and feeding the animals has tangible value.
“Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the forest.”
― Jack London, The Call of the Wild
Tonight I’m feeling introspective, so I think I might want to dive a little deeper. To clarify, I enjoy teaching though the politics of a university often leave much to be desired. But I think the thing that’s got me vexed isn’t really teaching. It’s really the bug of independence. I have an independent streak a mile wide. Don’t tell me what to do, where to be, how to look or question me if I choose to deviate from the norm. That was a previous life that I’ve left behind. And these days I have ideas on pushing deeper into this “cabin life.” But to do so takes hours of the day that have been reserved for other tasks… hence the frustration. Quite frankly, I’m just ready to do my own thing.
I was talking to a guy yesterday. He’s someone I’ve known and mentored since he was around 15. These days he’s out of college and after a few short years of teaching, he’s already sick of it. He wants to do his own thing too. But there’s a problem. He doesn’t really know what that is. He just doesn’t want to be domesticated and I don’t blame him. I told him now is the time to make some wise decisions. To think about all the ways that he can make the things holding him back irrelevant to his life. And then spend some time figuring out what it is he really wants and where to find it.
It’s this pull that I know a lot of us feel. As I’ve said before, people should be free. But the opposite of freedom is dependence and we’re constantly letting ourselves become dependent on one thing after another until we’re no longer free, but subservient. We do our little jobs and we pay our little bills and we sit around waiting to die. Screw that. It’s the moment this clicks for you that everything else that this modern world throws at us suddenly seems much less appealing and being locked into working for something you no longer want will drive a man to nothing more than anxiety and depression.
I get asked occasionally what the closing to my posts, Delibrio Animosus means. It’s Latin for live a deliberate and vibrant life. Live intentionally. Sort of like carpe diemmeans seize the day, delibrio animosus means seize the life. So that’s what I’m trying to do. Honorably moving on from one stage of life to something a little grittier. Seeking something a little less refined and a little wilder. Less time sitting at a desk and more time on a horse. Less time inside and more time outside. Watch more sunrises and less TV.
You get the idea. Go get ‘em.
In them meantime… live well…laugh often…love always.