Touching the Wild


Back in the day when I was riding the wildlife art circuit, most of my colleagues had wild animals. The claims of finding abandoned, then rescuing and rehabilitating a young wild animal was very prevalent in my circle, so prevalent that one had to wonder just how many wild babies were left in the woods. I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong since I did not have a needful baby animal and would have had trouble locating one if I want to do so. I mean I walk around in the woods more than most and in 60 years I think I have found three abandoned (or supposedly abandoned) animals. These people were finding a plethora of wild kids that they felt needed their guidance and nurturing to the point of stealing them away, some of which the question of abandonment by mom was up for grabs.


 Apparently it was what wildlife artist did. I never did search for an abandoned animal myself but I do admit I remember I felt as though I should have one; as if I could not be a wildlife artist without one. It led me to ask the question, ‘why do we feel the need to sidle up to the wild?


We have all seen the tourist wildlife photographer who walks right up to a 700 lbs. bull elk in a park for a picture, much closer than they need to be- why do they do that?


Is it a matter of daring? ‘See how close I got and I’m still alive!’


 Or is it an egotistical domination? A bit of control freakism to let the wild ones know we still have the upper hand. Perhaps it is possession. To capture in our hand, for even a moment, something elusive, something unobtainable. Then again it could be a remembrance from a primal time when we were closer to them, closer to Mother Earth. A time when we were more a part of her than apart from her. And them.


A time when we did not have to seek it out-this touching the wild-we lived it.


There are those who live at the other side of the spectrum, those individuals and cultures that believe touching a wild creature is taboo. Not from fear of claws, teeth and disease but from respect. They believe if we touch a wild animal, we steal some of their wildness. They are no longer completely wild. That we have thoughtlessly put them of a path of self-destruction. After all, not all humans are satisfied with only a touch, not all are kind. Better they should stay wary. It is a belief I myself embrace as age has taught me to see from a different perspective.


The reason is mysterious but we do feel the need to have that connection on some level, that physical feel of the wild. It is why we stroll through the woods, watch a sunset or stop to listen to the wind caress the leaves of an autumn oak. To feel alive again. To hold in our hand that bit of flame that is the wild Spirit we once knew so well.