We emerged from the wilderness united, through our shared experience and a mutual state of what some would call…filth. Mud and sun streaked tan-lines painted across our skin, our hair strongly styled by the wind, featured foliage and feathers that we had collected along our journey. Some were intentional additions, most were not. We didn’t mind.
Our laughter resonated through the treeline, deep, un-restrained and communal. Our bodies sore and decorated with scratches and bruises, but our souls light and free. We may have looked filthy, but were clean. The cleanest we have ever been! Lungs full of clean air, cells full of clean water and heads full of clear thoughts. It felt like the wilderness had washed us clean and we were now free from expectations, deadlines and criticism.
Even in our new state of being, we found ourselves gravitating towards the modern comforts that we had gone without for nine days. Dreams of fluffy doonas and hot showers approached reality. Our lungs breathed out their last breaths of fresh untainted air, fed by the trees luscious filtration systems; as we succumbed to the concentration of carbon monoxide that danced along our populated roads.
As we re-introduced ourselves to society, we were engulfed by artificial scents. Their smells pungently embedded in clouds of perfumes, cosmetic products and cleaners that were usually disguised by their commonality. Secretly, a little part of each of us missed our own unique adventure fragrance – a little salty, somewhat fruity and well-smoked by the fire which we gathered around each night. Uniquely ours and welcomed as evidence of the effort it took for our tribe to migrate, create camp and embrace our ability to self regulate our body temperature without air-conditioning. Some call it body odour – we called it body honour – recognition of a real existence. Its innately natural and smells better the wilder we are.
Dusty clothes piled on floors and our toes tickled the cold bathroom tiles, as we crept towards our respective showers. Our heads tilted back in awe as the warm water flowed down our necks, as we indulged in conventional cleanliness. The chlorine intertwined in its flow sung powerfully, more noticeable above the cascade of water than before. It amazed us how having hydrated and bathed in clear streams for over a week had created a new sensitivity to freshness. We appreciated how the river bubbled with pure natural energy as it journeyed downstream with us.
The last of our transient leaves, twigs and river-mud convened in a whirl pool near our plug holes. Finally we were ‘clean’. Yet in some ways we felt dirtier than before. Even the invisible wifi signal tickled our eyelashes as we felt the confines of modernisation encroaching on our spirit.
Thankfully the warm steam began to fog up our bathroom mirrors and we drifted back into the dream-like state we embodied on the journey. There we had the gift of time, free from reflections (other than the ones that rippled on the rivers surface). This allowed us to create images in our own minds about how we appeared in the world, influenced simply by how we felt on the inside. We were majestic. We were clean, wild and free.
How could you invite more wild ‘cleanliness’ into your life?
Originally published in the Healing Times April/May 2019