Updated: Nov 8, 2020
A story in a strap line
Hello. I’m Josh, one of the co-founders of The Living Project. Our philosophy lies in the simple sentence, Be True. Live Wild. This is an explanation of what that philosophy means to me, and why I believe the wild is vital to us as humans.
Dictionary: real, genuine, authentic.
Opinion: “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first.” - Jim Morrison
Dictionary: a state of nature.
Opinion: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” – John Muir
I’ve spent the last ten years working and living in the wild. It’s been a privilege exploring ‘others’ and the place they call home, working with the wild to facilitate personal and professional journeys for those involved. Throughout these journeys with others there has been a strong sense of exploration for all involved. Not just exploration of another place, but of ourselves, each other, and ways of living different to our own. They are opportunities to step away, in order to return changed in some way.
I’ve also been on, and continue a conscious journey with myself to explore another form of wild. Me, and the reality of life in its entirety as I know, and don't know.
The wild is critical in my journey. Weather that’s surfing in the ocean, trekking in the mountains, or holing up in my home; a boat on the river where I watch, listen, feel and slowly move through my truth, made clearer by the silence around me.
The wild, that unknown place of being natural, of exploration has given me confidence, space, trauma, moments of absolute joy and contentment, and moments of pant-shitting fear. My relationship with the wild is a journey that challenges me, gives me room to connect with others away from the noise, and gives me the opportunity to explore my soul.
In our post-modern society, there’s a growing phenomenon of what sociologists call retreatism; retreating into solitude, contemplation and quiet in order to recharge and re-enter the frenetic noise-filled work-focused world more healthily. I love a good retreat, and they’re good for the soul, but it amazes me that this is seen as something healthy, when clearly the ‘non retreat time’ is so unhealthy we need a retreat. What if what we did in retreat was a part of the norm?
When I think about the last ten years, and now in our current global situation (Covid-19 and responses to it) I am aware that for me the wild, although providing sanctuary, has never been a retreat - I see it as an opportunity to advance - to be held to account in the reality of a situation (truth), to re-connect, learn and commit to a new world - not to go back to the old.
In the saturated social media world of self-help gurus with every answer possible for how to live your life there are a million people saying: “we are all limitless”. But that’s simply untrue in our current systems. Our societal structures and ingrained unconscious perpetuation of them mean that starting blocks aren’t level. The gun even goes off at different times based on the colour of your skin, your gender, what type of school you went to, what geographical location you were born into. Oh, and the finish line is definitely shorter for some.
Yet the wild - of which we are a part, completely discounts all these privileges. It doesn’t have bias or systems in place to pre- judge based on societal structures. It couldn’t give a shit about your opinion about someone else, or how much money you’ve got. It is what it is. And by being what it is, it asks us who we are away from all the messaging that suggests what we should be. In the wild it is us who must adapt. The wild by its nature finds our truth, holds us to account and gives us a chance to be true. It provides an opportunity to re-engage with feeling, intuition and instinct. To listen, learn, act in the present and move forwards. And because of this lack of hierarchy or societal constructs, the connections we make with each other and the wild are authentic and rooted in truth.
The wild is there, all we have to do is choose to engage. It takes courage, time, and a willingness to ride the waves of experience – pouring rain, striking sunshine and everything in between and around.
Perhaps getting wild is one of the last levellers among humans. The wild is about the unknown and exploration, and therefore it’s relative, it doesn’t have to be a mountain or far flung mystical paradise, it can be found anywhere. A park in a city at sunrise. A canal teaming with wildlife (stop, listen and watch on a canal and you’ll see a whole world of wild going on that exists without any knowledge of social media, and has adapted to human presence), a roof top watching the birds.
The wild is an open opportunity to advance into a revolution of self, compassion for others, care for the wild and a commitment not to return to that which is unhealthy. To take this learning forwards into our structures and systems and create new ones. And it is for this reason that I believe the wild to be critical for us all, particularly in times of challenge, restriction and solitude.
Popular terms for the value inherent in the wild are wellbeing, self-care, resilience, environmentalism and others. For me it’s simple:
Be True. Live Wild.
Josh Bulpin - November 2020