Have You Read Into the Wild?

Izzi Lynn

There is something amazing about how life first crawled from the sea, its beating heart held tightly in its hands with ferocious determination to not just survive, but thrive. And that same incredible, savage compulsion that drove our ancestors to clamber from the ocean, to tame fire, and conquer the most dangerous places on this very planet has been passed down from generation to generation. Think of Cleopatra, killer of three of her siblings to claim her throne, think of Boudicca against the Romans and the Brits, outnumbered but not outmaneuvered. Think of Icarus as he spiraled down into the sea with burning hot wax melted on his back; think of Achilles, his rage at the death of his lover enough to bring Troy to its knees- so much so that the gods had to interfere lest he defy fate and destroy the city before its time.  Think of Alexander the Great, conqueror of Persia; think of Joan of Arc- the Maid of Orleans: a simple farm girl who lead France to victory and was burnt at the stake for it. Think of Sacagawea, a baby on her back and courage in her chest and only the open land before her; think of Harriet Tubman, her strength pulsing in her chest as she returns to the South again and again and again to free her brothers and sisters in spirit from their slavery and think of Malala Yousafzai, her simple act of stepping on a bus enough to shake the entire world to its foundations.

We are the people who dream too big to ever truly be anchored. Every one of us is descended from survivors, a line of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people who survived long enough to have children despite all odds. Is it no wonder that some of us have developed a taste for the challenge? History is full to the brim of people like Chris and I. Why, pray tell, do you think Icarus flew so high in spite of his father's words? Danger is only another word and there are greater things calling to us. We hear the siren song and do not resist. All of the world is made for the taking and we want to take it. Yes, there is fear. There is always fear (there is no courage without fear), but we have more courage than fear. And yes, there is danger. There is always danger, but we are only ready. We have come too far to give up now. What is the meaning of a life if you don't live it? 

There is a voice in our heads saying conquer because you can. Saying conquer because you want to. There is a wild love of rebellion simply for the sake of rebellion that Chris and I shared. A wild wild urge to defy simply because it is possible. But we also shared an altruistic compulsion to give and give and give until there is nothing left for you and a deep, burning hatred of greed and inequity. There is nothing bad in those, but in excess, they lead only to tragedy. You will also notice that those people like us I mentioned, they are all great but they often end in tragedy because we get caught up in the savage joy of adrenaline in our veins and the addicting need to continue pushing our limits until they shatter. 

I look at Chris and all I can see is the road not taken. When we came to crossroads, we made different choices. And something inside me hates him for that. God knows how easy it would've been to do what he did. To just leave everything behind and go. To renounce my name and renounce my history and become someone new- someone free. 

See, it goes like this: I was nine and had a bag packed in my closet with everything I'd need if I decided to just leave everything behind. I was ten and I dreamt every night of the open sky and the open road and nothing on me but the clothes on my back and a pack of cigarettes under my teeth. I was eleven and I wanted nothing more than to just cut all my ties and leave. I was twelve and I dreamt ever night of freedom, of paws thudding beneath me against the frozen tundra and of canine teeth tearing into the throat of a deer and the taste of warm blood as it trickled down my throat. I was twelve and I dreamt every night of angels with fangs the color of ivory and of freedom with wings like golden hawks. I was twelve and I dreamt of honey and sweet pomegranates soothing the burn in my chest; I dreamt of magnolias and of cherry pits and of summer thunderstorms swelling beneath my skin... but every time I woke up, I felt further from redemption than ever before. I was twelve, and I dreamt of having a scythe for a spine and knives for knuckles and of finally being someone strong. I was twelve and I dreamt of the ocean opening its maw to devour me whole and of my arms turning to iridescent wings as I dove beneath the waves. I was twelve and I dreamt of hot asphalt beneath my bare feet and of nothing bitter on my tongue for the first time in six years. I was twelve, and I dreamt of being somewhere with soft grass and blooming daisies and open sky, and here, for the first time in six years, I was unafraid and at peace. 

See, it goes like this: I was ready and wanting to sever everything that held me down and escape like the wild wild animal I was inside. Like the angry wolf that wanted nothing more than to howl at the moon and run in the forest while the lunar madness raced in her veins. Like the hungry wolf that wanted nothing more than to devour everything that ever made her tame. Like the tired wolf that wanted nothing more than to be something free once more. Because everything, everything, felt like ropes against my wrist and iron in my mouth and cement in my shoes. I was a hair's breadth away from cutting all my ties and running. 

That's what Chris did. He saw all the broken relationships and fled to the road in the hopes that the word home wouldn't feel quite so much like a noose. And it didn't. He left his name behind (it weighed him down like a block of concrete) but more than that, he shed everything that made him feel shattered and took on a different skin- a lion's pelt, a stag's antlers, a wolf's heart. He wasn't Chris anymore. Chris was someone weak, someone broken, someone weak. No, he was Alex now, he was alive and whole and unbroken. 

I didn't. I struggled and struggled and I decided: I want to fix this. I want to make it better. Chris and I came to the same crossroads, but when he let go, I chose to hold on. I sat down in front of my therapist and said, teach me how to mend these broken relationships. It was not easy, repairing all these fragile bonds stretching between everything and me and turning them into something that no longer held me down but set me free. It was years of work, years of going to my therapist and breaking down in tears and screaming, i don't understand why this is so hard, i just want to be a family again! It was years of fighting and pain and wanting wanting wanting so badly to give up. It was not a straight, easy path. There were fights so bad I wanted to leave them for the wolves and never look back. There were fights so bad I wanted to slit my wrists and leave for something better. There were fights so bad I have scars on my heart and something burnt in my chest. 

When I was ten years old, I pulled the bug screen of my window so I could escape if needed (so that I could sit on the ledge and pretend I was not aching). When I was eleven years old, my father made me stay home from school to pull weeds for hours and hours and hours as a punishment. When I was twelve, I walked away from a fight with a red imprint on my face. When I was fourteen, I ran from the house and hid beneath a car in terror and when I finally gathered enough courage to return to the house, it was using a metal statue as a makeshift weapon. When I was fifteen, my mother shattered my phone she was so angry. When I was fifteen, I climbed from my two-story window using a chain of backpacks and my rock-climbing shoes. When I was fifteen, I biked to a friend's house without telling my parents and cried into her arms. When I was fifteen, I told my therapist, it feels like i am being worn down into nothing. 

So yes, there are times when it feels like for every step forward, two steps back. There are times when it feels like nothing is making progress, like we are frozen in time like mosquitoes in amber. But I have learned something. When the river changes the rock, it does so slowly, over so much time until all of a sudden it seems as though the rock was always like that. (The Grand Canyon was not made in a year and Rome was not built in a day). I am the river. 

And lo and behold, we are different now. We are moving forward. The bonds I share with the people around me no longer feel so much like handcuffs and ropes and chains and pain. There is still a wolf inside me, but it is not a lone wolf anymore. I am forging my own path, but also my own pack. When the wolf said, run, I said, shut up and watch me conquer. When his wolf told Chris to run, he answered, yes, yes, we are something wild, now we will be something free also. But he did not realize that this did not free him, not truly. He was still chained down by a past he had never made peace with. 

There is something inside me that pities Chris for never getting the chance to make his own pack. A lone wolf is never as satisfied as one with a pack. There is a reason we have built cities since the dawn of time. These connections do not have to be chains if you don't let them be. Chris never had the chance to make his own pack, to make his own family, because he was so busy running from a past he could not forget. Me, I looked at my past and said, you do not define me. Because you cannot run from your past, it is always faster., What you CAN do is understand that you are who you choose to be. You do not have to be controlled by a past that haunts you. I took my pain and my past into my white hot hands and forged them into someone better. And I am someone happier now. I am someone stronger now. 

Yes, I had to relearn how to say my name without it tasting bitter in my mouth. But listen to me now. I am Izzi, the girl with a fire-heart and silver lungs, the girl with teeth like razors and a smile like the sunrise before the storm, the girl who is not afraid to say i am dangerous and i am forged in the white hot corona of dying stars and i am something wild. I am the girl with painted nails and hair like golden wheat and something beautiful inside her. I am Isabelle, I am Isabelle, I am Isabelle. I am girl-with-stars-for-soul, I am girl-with-two-thousand-stories, I am girl-with-a-heart-of-fire. I am Isabelle

I've learned that you cannot move forward until you've made peace with your demons. You cannot become someone better until you have confronted what is so twisted and terrible and terrified inside you. 

Chris gave his ghosts voices louder than his own. I did not. 

And when we reached the crossroads, Chris took one road, and me, I took the other. 

  • Author: Izzi Lynn (Pseudonym) (Offline Offline)
  • Published: September 23rd, 2018 14:28
  • Comment from author about the poem: This is something I wrote after reading "Into the Wild," by Jon Krakauer.
  • Category: Reflection
  • Views: 11
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