The truth is, I am concerned for humanity. I am concerned by the way we insulate our bodies, minds and souls from any degree of discomfort, shield ourselves from suffering, grow mono-dimensional in our middle age until death bumps us off into the great beyond and our bodies go to stardust. I am concerned.
I don’t want this for myself. I want to feel it all. I want to feel my anger, my hurt, my joy, my pain; feel those things break me and build me, learn from my life and move deeper into it. I want to have all the beautiful stuff, but I also want to know what it’s like to have a face that is frozen with cold, an empty and aching belly, a heart filled with despair, shattered faith—I want to know what it is to suffer. My suffering brings my blessings to light.
I want to shiver through the night, cut my hands to ribbons while gathering firewood, cautiously ration my food, know thirst, keep walking under a heavy pack on horrible terrain even if my ankle is sprained or my bones are broken. I want to run out of food and know hunger. I want to fight a little for my food, remember eating is a privilege, reminisce about what it’s like to have the luxury of an overflowing fridge and the convenience of grocery stores on every street corner.
I want to warm my cold hands on the hot and twitching backstrap of a deer. I want to feel the pain of my fingers thawing.
I want to know the weight and responsibility attached to taking a life so that I may live. I want to know the darkness and light of that act. I want to revel in the beauty of the deed well done and I want to feel sad about it, too. I want to feel the bullet in my very own soul. I want to understand what I have done to get my food so that I value and cherish and remember every bite of it.
I want all of this for myself, unabashedly I want to survive, and not recreationally. It is not enough to get cold while I am out skiing or catch and release fishing from my boat on a beautiful river. That’s trading some pain for play and I want my suffering to mean more than that.
I want to doubt. I want to fall. I want to fail. I want to wind up empty handed despite my best, truest efforts. I want to work hard, redeem myself and be redeemed. I want to crawl, walk, run towards my higher calling. I want to know myself better. I want to trust the wild and the wildness I was born into as a citizen of Earth.
And so, I hunt.
Essay by our talented ambassador Jillian Lukiwski, @thenoisyplume.