Somehow in my never ending visits to the library as a child, stacks and stacks of books, I never read Where the Wild Things Are. When the movie came out when I was in college and the general population oohed and ahhed over their many memories of childhood bedtime stories, I felt left out. I even felt in some ways frustrated with my mother for never steering me towards the wonder of the world of Maurice Sendak. How could she have not included this literary masterpiece in my childhood education? I decided to fix that, so I found a copy and read it myself for the first time as a 22 year old. Children’s books read as an adult can be profoundly meaningful. Again, I felt small and swept up into a world both so otherly and so familiar. A good children’s book will do that. It’s the simple truth. What I love about the book is this entrance into an inner world of imagination that is in essence a wilderness. It is here Max comes face to face with himself and his beliefs and even his own wildness.
I currently live in a place that is mostly concrete. Concrete and steel and some graffiti art that a visionary has used to echo beauty in a place where people mostly look up rather than exactly where they are. I love art for that reason. It stops you. Arrests you. Makes you consider what is here rather than where you’re headed. Sometimes this city feels so tamed. The traffic, the people passing on the street, the bustle like ants in a never-ending maze, repeating the same tunnels all contained. A predictable chaos. Everyone with their lattes and schedule and striving. This is how I feel on days when I feel trapped. Trapped by the day to day. Limited by the steel and by time and by my own body.
There is an inner wilderness with which I have begun to be forced to come face to face. There are so many days where engaging it seems overwhelming, and I have chosen rather to flow with the norms and to numb the disconnection I feel. I’ve begun to recognize that when I start to feel closed in, something inside of me grows unsettled. There is a fear and a pain that begins to bang and clang against imaginary walls, desperate to escape. I’m slowly finding these edges of myself, the cliffs that pushing past will leave me falling, bruised from the impact of the ways I try to manage my pain. The admission that my internal world is not the same as what the external is showing is complicated. It’s gnawingly frustrating, even a little shaming, this feeling of not fitting, overwhelming my own skin, afraid it will all spill out and hurt those around me. I push it down and look for an escape. I want to start again, unfamiliar and anonymous, where what is around me is startling and new and strange and distracting.
The last four years of my life have kept me, held me, in this city with these people and I am thankful. Over and over, when my eyes have looked for an exit, my feet have been held by a commitment to the process of this vocation. Instead of journeying out, I have been asked and continue to be asked to march into the wildness of my own heart and to accept it’s chaos and beauty. Its limits and its possibility. Its sin and redemption. It’s all there if I will only look. I will choose that journey. How else will I believe it for anyone else?