When I first started to understand that civilization itself was the root of so many inextricable problems, pain, and destruction, I wanted to throw it out of my life altogether.
But I have learned that it is of no use to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Before I became so critical and mistrustful of civ when I was about 19 or 20, I really loved my life and what I was doing with it. I was really into math, and loved it for its own sake. And I wanted to work “within the system” to change the world in ways that I felt would help stop the pain and destruction; I wanted to go into urban planning. I was easily inspired, made quirky jokes constantly, and felt close to myself; I knew myself well (for the most part).
And… I was thoroughly a part of civ. I would go so far as to say that my life was “set up” (through the kind of family I was raised in) to have a major role in the functioning of civ. My brainpower was being harvested by educational institutions (and later, presumably, would be used in urban design work). I was going to have a “very bright future,” I was going to make a contribution… to civilization! And, as a high school/college kid, I accepted that, gladly. Don’t get me wrong, I was deeply concerned about the environment, and I was in love (still am) with the land, lakes and forests of my youth, and the thought of something like the North American genocide inspired sadness and anger. BUT I didn’t see how anything about the way I intended to live my life had anything to do with those feelings about wild, beautiful things.
When I first got that unshakable impulse to fly in the face of civ, I lost my entire identity. The baby had been dumped with the bathwater… and I couldn’t turn to ANYONE for support. It was hard, but I persevered.
And the thing is, sometimes, that old me comes back, and it makes me so emotionally confused. I have a new boyfriend who’s in school part time. Recently he took a lot of college math. We had a brief discussion the other day about multi-variable calculus and non-Cartesian coordinate systems, and I realized how much I miss my old mind, how beautiful and poetic math was to me. Math is this whole world that stems from years and years, layers, of CIVILIZED intellectual/philosophical discourse, and it’s not useful in rewilding–more than likely, it gets in the way–and I just don’t know what to do about that, not to mention so many other things that stake a claim on my life. Whether I want them to influence me or not, they do. And then when I realize that, I get more than a little anxious about it. On one hand, I feel as though those things tether me to civ like sinister black tentacles. On the other hand, they are part of who I am and accepting/submitting to that seems like a healthy thing to do.
I’m so confused. What am I missing here? I need some kind of clue, or perspective. Surely I can rewild without demolishing myself in the process!
Does anyone else ever feel this way?