Hey, people! Thank you for being here. Welcome to post #145. I started sharing my writing weekly in 2019, but for this past year I’ve been mostly invisible to give myself the headspace to write a novel. Now while I work on getting it published, I’m getting back in the groove of communicating, and I have new thoughts to share.
I have been trying to rewild myself. To rewild a place is to allow it to return to its natural state after it’s been disrupted by development. Can I rewild my brain? The developments of the past few years have seriously disrupted my core self. A pattern of anxiety has developed in my mind, and I’m looking for a remedy. Not a pill. A practice. So, this summer I’ve tried to improve my mental health by returning to a more natural way of being, and I’ve made some discoveries along the way.
In my most tranquil moments my brain chemistry turns to molasses, and time becomes invisible. I stop consciously calculating and euphoria fogs my windshield. It starts with putting away my devices, but it’s more than that. I need to nurture my mental freedom with unstructured time, cultivate my intuition, think random thoughts, and tune into my biology, just me and my wetware.
If my brain is a parking lot for ideas, rewilding sets boundaries. When it comes to sanity and insanity, good fences make good neighbors. More and more our life is controlled by technology platforms, and although I enjoy them, I see how electronics plague my biology with persistent unproductive stimulation. Think of our devices as a system of wanting. Engineered addiction. Like cigarettes, our machines are designed to be habit forming because that’s where the money is. I quit smoking in 2003. I quit drinking in 2020. I get it. My wellness demands abstinence. But how do I balance addictive devices with the need to connect? Boundaries.
Like any practice, rewilding is intentional. I set my intentions for joyriding on my brain waves and then I put myself in a setting that encourages the experience. For me, that setting is my garden, the place where I find my flow. You may find your flow painting or surfing or knitting or fishing or horseback riding. The trick is to put yourself in a peaceful setting and let go of time. Flow is not a gadget or a game, it’s not a competition or a quest, it’s not a sport with a scorecard, you can’t buy it, it’s not for sale. You find your flow inside yourself, and you own it. Flow is a state of mind. To rewild myself and get back to my essential nature, I need to find my flow state and stay in it for as long as I can, as often as I can.
In the garden this summer I let myself go communing with hummingbirds and soil microbes, grew my own indigenous mycelia, planted three-sisters milpas, and failed hugely by being a bit too whimsical with fertilizer. I find my flow by floating, not worrying about mistakes. I’m willy-nilly. Flow is not perfection.
While I was watching bumble bees smother the blooms on my oregano, I had a revelation about my circadian rhythm. I saw that the speed of light is slower in my garden than on my phone. Electronics speed up my perception of time and condition me to the accelerating process of everything until I’m completely out of synch with the natural world, including myself. My biology is competing with fiber optics for primacy within my own body. Data moves at the speed of light. My body moves at the speed of biochemistry.
My brain needs my gut bacteria, and my gut bacteria needs broccoli. My phone feeds me TikTok. My phone skips breakfast. And lunch and dinner. My biology can’t keep up. Technology is supposed to be efficient and convenient, but multitasking fragments my focus. It breaks my concentration. I burn the oatmeal. My phone produces results so fast that I don’t even feel the passage of time, it just disappears. I lost three hours of my life the first time I went on TikTok. Distraction is not flow.
Rewilding enables me to witness myself separate from technology. It builds my awareness of the inclination to pick up my phone the way I used to pick up a cigarette in those moments when my mind is aimless. Breaking such an ingrained habit is a long process. To quit smoking, I got rid of all my cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters, and matches. I was a bar fly. To quit drinking I stay out of bars. Learning to appreciate the absence of that external stimulation is an acquired taste. Airplane mode is my safe zone. Flow is not aimless.
It’s the beginning of September and my state of mind is changing with the season. I feel the loss of light in the pace of my day. Still, I’m trying to hold onto the slowness of summer. Obviously, technology is a conveyor belt for stress. It drains my battery. But that observation alone is not enough to change my behavior. I need to intentionally rewild and regenerate myself, find my flow and conserve my resources. Perhaps you love to make music, whittle, hike with your dog, or climb rocks. That positive expression of your mind is your biology blooming, your flow. Our resilience depends on it. Find your essential nature and cultivate it. Rewild yourself.
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Learn more at Rewild.org