Wordlessness Part I: "Making the Sky Out of Sticks"

“You want to ask questions now… But you can’t. You can’t get a word out. You just stare for as long as you can because suddenly it will all be over, you will get your name back and life will begin again… [Later] experiences are translated, now made of words, like trying to build the sky out of sticks.“

            Craig Childs, Naturalist, Writer, Anima-Spotting Badass. (Not his official title.)


I found this quote in Martha Beck‘s Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, in which she describes of the importance of “Wordlessness.” She says wordlessness is the way to move beyond our tiny minds and into the parts of our selves that taps into wild wisdom.

Now, I am a word witch. Words have always been the knives with which I carve the story of my life. But I have also dropped into wordlessness, over and over. That’s where I became a witch. That place is where magic lives and where the story is before it is born.

So when I read this, I could feel it calling.

Incidentally, I would like to say that’s why I haven’t posted in 2 days, and this would be partly true, but I would have to include a lost phone, Saturday’s karaoke and my first weekend frolic since this daily discipline began. So, I say to myself what my teacher said to me about commiting to a practice and missing a day. “Self,” I say. “I forgive you. Now start over.” And so if not posting is not my use of wordlessness, then what? Finding my way into the wild.

Craig Childs knows about words and about the way they get knocked out of you by encountering the wild because he is the aforementioned animal-spotting badass. You should read his books. It was in Crossing Paths: Uncommon Encounters with Animals in the Wild, that I read his suggestion that the way to see wild animals is to sit still for 15 minutes. This is how long, he says, it takes for the birds that froze when you walked up to start moving again, for the alarm calls to subside, for the small creatures to begin to creep back towards whatever good place you have found.

I am thinking about this as I go down to the creek:

I want to be with the wild, because I can feel that the wild has been with me.

I want to be wordless, in a non non-posting way.

I want to tap into the vast wisdom beyond my tiny brain.

So, I’ll just sit still. Without words, just watching. I’ll meditate by the creek and I’ll watch my breath and watch nature. But no word- ification! Just observing…. For fifteen minutes.

This will be great.

(Up Next, Wordless Part Two: HOLY SHIT!! HOLY SHIT!!)