"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Friday, December 23, 2011

Creating a Home

After seeing Into the Wild, a friend of mine was annoyed at the suggestion that it's somehow better to live in the wild. His position was that all animals create homes of some sort, nests, burrows, etc. Our homes just happen to be made of concrete and bricks, and they last a lot longer. So what's the big deal about nature and wilderness!

I thought he had a good point, except the permanence of our homes is a pivotal difference not to be shrugged off. We don't build our nests, we move into them ready-made. I know some animals do that, benefiting from someone else's efforts, but maybe we're not the kind of animal that is made for that. I wonder if we there's something to the experience of crafting a home, and of foraging for food for ourselves, and if we have some deep inner loss that we don't live closer to the ground, that we don't live an authentic life but a suburban existence, that we couldn't survive without a grocery store down the street, without someone else catching food for us. That groups of people build our homes and communities and grow or kill our food seems to infantize us. All animals get kicked out of the nest and have to fend for themselves - except us. We've lost that adult stage of growth and creation of food, home and self. We're too well taken care of in my part of the world.

I really related to the Alex/Chris character in the film (and book, which I read cover-to-cover the day after watching the movie). I often feel that my home is a cage, and I really belong in the woods. I've always been drawn to forests. But it could just be my personal nature that craves do-it-myself experiences. Maybe it's not generic human nature at all. Maybe I'm just a little odd.

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