Wild Beauty

Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 | Comments Off on Wild Beauty

As an avid reader, I’ve come to believe that no matter what a writer writes, it usually stems from a deeply personal place. Long- buried beliefs and concerns bubble up through the plot points , or through a protagonist’s fierce inner struggle. Or they are awakened in us by another writer’s well-told tale. A couple of years ago, my sister gave me ac copy of Willa Cather’s ‘O Pioneers!’, which I hadn’t read since high school. At the turn of the 20th C, protagonist Alexandra Bergson inherits that family farm and struggles to run it. Many of her neighbors are leaving the windswept Nebraska prairie in search of an easier life.  But Alexandra can’t even think of leaving, because she’s fallen in love with the wild spirit of the prairie.

Alexandra calls this spirit ‘the Genius of the Divide’, and refers to “the great free spirit which breathes across it.” She recognizes this pulsing life force and gives voice to existence, embracing it as an intrinsic part of herself. I was stunned when I read this because it so perfectly describes something I could never quite put into words; the sense that, in the woods, on the side of a mountain, or in some rock-strewn expanse of high desert, I was surrounded by a sentient presence.

Down the ages, this wild presence has gone by many names. One of those names is Pan. Lord of the Forest, iconic spirit of the wild, lusty Pan represents irrepressible life force; green shoots pushing through the mud, the glorious madness of the rutt. When we respond from some deep place to the first stirrings of Spring or thrill to the sight of leaves turning to flame on an Autumn hillside, we are feeling the presence of Pan, and the aliveness of our own wild nature.

Years ago, when I started writing ‘Luminous’, I thought I was telling the story of a young girl searching for her own private meaning in life. But as I’ve gone round and round in revision after revision, peeling the layers to get at the beating heart of the tale, I’ve realized that a private meaning always becomes a universal one because we are all searching for a truth which will explain to us our place in the world.


Enter Pan, who laces us together with his mossy ropes of wildness, who shows us how we’re irresistibly drawn toward the untamed, the disorderly, the messy. How we yearn for unruly magnificent love and long to drift in our dreams toward the uncharted edges of the world. Pan. Nature. Gaia. Wild Beauty. Call it whatever you like. It will wait in the deepest reaches of your heart until you’re ready to embrace it. And when you are, it will share your road. It will burn your map and set you on your way full circle back to what it means to be human. For me, being human means recognizing the sacred in the mundane and holding them in my heart as one thing. What about you? How will you redefine your humanity in the face of your own wild beauty?

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