Old Enough For Fairy Tales Again

Old Enough For Fairy Tales Again

Monday, January 18, 2010

Where Our Wild Things Are.

"We are all filled with a longing for the wild. There are few culturally sanctioned antidotes for this yearning. We were taught to feel shame for such a desire. We grew our hair long and used it to hide our feelings. But the shadow of Wild Woman still lurks behind us during our days and in our nights. No matter where we are, the shadow that trots behind us is definitely four-footed."
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot my four-footed shadow. I can blame it on a hundred things - marriage, motherhood, work, age, life -- but the truth is, I just forgot. True there are no gold stars for wild hearts and wild women. In a world of shoulds and oughts dictated by others, listening to and acting on the fierce longings and hungers of our hearts doesn't get a lot of support. It's up to us to keep our ear to the ground, to listen closely and carefully to the beat of our hearts, to pay attention to the whispers and promises in the wind. We are responsible for our wild things and we give them up without a thought, at least I did.

After the heart attacks and the bypass, I would sit in the twilight, in the gathering shadows, look out the front window at the world changing before my eyes, and wonder. I couldn't tell you about what. There was only a restlessness, a wondering that bordered on wandering. I had no name for it. I wasn't even sure it was anything. I just felt something around my civilized edges, something hungry, something restless, something undomesticated.

It took a collage months after the fact to introduce me to the wild thing in me I had almost forgotten. I looked at the picture I had made, the howling wolf in the hole of a heart and the howling wolf beyond it. This is what I was at the heart of me. Fate broke me open and La Loba was the treasure I found.

It's no accident that the movie Where The Wild Things Are came out around the same time as my recovery and this collage. Carl Jung would call it synchronicity, that phenomenon of meaningful coincidence. I suppose I would call it that too. I read the story a lot to my daughter when she was young. She loved the wild boy who acted out in ways she never would. She loved the idea of monsters loose, and wild rumpuses and boys in wolf costumes crowned king, acting wild, being completely themselves. I suspect what Max teaches us, what he taught me with his wild rumpus, is that you don't need to take a boat across a rough see to find wild things. They're in us, of us. all the time. And if we're lucky, we know this. And if we're wise we never lose touch with the wild things inside. And because we're blessed, because there is something miraculous called Grace, we are given myriad opportunities to remember this, to welcome again into our fold, the wild things and wild places within us. Sometimes we get it with just a nudge. Sometimes we need a sledge hammer of a heart attack and a quadruple bypass to get it through our thick skulls.

Now once you discover your Wild Woman, La Loba, your inner Wild thing, the question becomes how you live and love with it. That's where I am now. These are the stories I'm telling, this post-bypass woman just past 50, trying to figure out what to do with the wolf of my heart. And I suppose I'll content myself for a time with a wild rumpus or two, until I figure it out.


  1. Your writing is so lovely, such a gift. I keep going back to the notion of no gold stars for wild hearts and wild women. Strikes at the heart of me, and the rebel inside me too. Sisterhood, authenticity, sacred space... willingness - all gets us closer. Reminds me of that Wild Women Don't Get The Blues song.

  2. What a wonderful and eloquent debut. I'm looking forward to watching your journey unfold here!

  3. Thank you both. Conversations are critical for me and without the deep ones of our friendship, I'm not sure I would have gotten here, definitely not as soon.