Work (whether it’s a paid position or not) takes up a lot of time for most people in modern culture. Leisure time is often relegated to the weekend (if it’s available at all), and evenings are often spent crashing out to one’s chosen streaming service (or catching up on work, especially for parents during pandemics). It’s easy to just work work work and then not have anything left over for the rest of life.
Can you relate?
Do you ever feel like you spend more time at the office or behind the till or at the wheel or doing household chores or tapping on a keyboard than is ideal for human health and happiness? It probably also feels like there’s just not a realistic way to do things differently right now. Maybe there’s a job change in your future, maybe you’ll move to a yurt in the Andes or maybe you’ll figure out how to finance a simple lifestyle without relying on the nine to five. But for many of us, there are school loans to pay, a mortgage with which to keep up, kids to care for, health insurance to keep current, and various vehicles or other serviceable items to maintain.
Leaving it all behind to move to a cabin in the woods may sound fabulous-but for many, it’s just not going to happen in the next week, or month, or year. (Hey, maybe it will. Maybe tomorrow will bring a shift that will allow all of our ideal situations to come closer into being. You just never know. I like to leave some room for this possibility, even if it’s a very long shot…)
But anyway, this post isn’t about abandoning the quest to live in a way that requires less money, few resources resources, or big life changes. Rather it is a post about what you can do right now to feel just a tad bit more wild and grounded in your day to day. Even if there’s a whole lotta work on the horizon.
- Sit or stand up straight. Pretend there’s a string attached to your head, pulling it toward the ceiling, roll your shoulders back and notice the crunching sound your shoulder blades make after a morning of hunching forward. Take a deep breath deep into your abdomen, hold it for three seconds and then breathe out. Repeat as often as necessary. When you feel out of tune, check in with your physical body. Feel the air going in and out of your nose. Remember you are a living, breathing, human animal.
- Turn off the news. On your commute to work, during your morning coffee ritual, when getting gas at one of those stations that has TVs at every pump: Don’t engage. Don’t let the media dictate how you are going to start your day and what information is going to color how you perceive the world. We are bombarded with [mostly] negative energy from all sides every time we look at a device, turn on the radio, or walk down the street. Stay informed in a way that sets you up to be a positive force in the world instead of a way that is apt to send you into the depths of despair or hostility. You get to choose how much, when, and from what source your information comes. You [often] have the power to choose how you respond to what you see. Use your choice.
- Go outside at lunch or on your 15 minute break, or anytime opportunity presents. This one is a no brainer, but it must be said. Get some natural light and fresh air, even if is raining or the sun hasn’t been out for weeks or you are deep in a concrete jungle. Look up at the sky if there’s nothing else natural to focus on. Remember that wildness is still the undercurrent of the world. If you want to get really wild, take off your shoes and stand on the little patch of soil in between the sidewalk and the road. Honor the wildness that you feel when you engage with the natural air and remember to notice it.
- Connect with someone different. That’s right – that person in the next cube over [maybe the one you have to Zoom with regularly during these days of social distancing…]who chomps gum all day and is always talking about that band that you hate? Smile at her and ask her what the highlight of her weekend was. The guy who lives down the road who has his car plastered with bumper stickers of a political party you can’t stand? Hold the door for him when you see him struggling with too many bags at the grocery store. When we can reach out beyond our perceived differences, we create a world that isn’t so separate. And these days that’s really wild.
- Howl. Yes, you read that right. If you are up for a challenge, go outside right now and howl. If that’s not feasible for whatever reason, howl in your car on the commute home or while running errands. You don’t have to do it in front of anyone else, but do it. Let your voice out. So often we feel caged in a system that doesn’t have a key. Perhaps part of the way out of the cage is to speak our truth. Whether it’s by howling like a wolf or simply speaking up for something that matters, hear the sound of your voice meld into the sounds that are surrounding you and know that you are part of the earth. Know that your voice matters.
What are your go-to methods for adding more wildness to the work week?