“I hate 2020”

nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future

Chris McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp

I am thinking (or trying to think) about what COVID-19 is doing to us. To me.

I think COVID-19 might be the definition of the wild wilderness of the planet. And insofar as it is that, it’s a timely and terrific message from the universe(s).

COVID-19 is the wildness of the planet because it demonstrates a truth already well-worn for some of us: Nothing is guaranteed to us. We are owed nothing. We learn to sustain ourselves by sustaining ourselves, no matter what.

And ‘self-sustaining’ is, incidentally, the connotation of the word for ‘wild’ in Chinese. Which means, that life — that it even exists, that we are even alive at all — is, in the end, kind of ‘wild.’

And COVID-19 is also the wilderness of the planet because the wilderness is, according to Jon Krakauer who wrote INTO THE WILD that which sustains our spirit to survive. Because, as McCandless wrote to a friend, ‘nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future,’ a dictum whereby of course he lived and died as describe in Jon Krakauer’s book about him (INTO THE WILD).

Among friends we talk now about how, because of COVID-19, the future seems indefinitely uncertain (one of them said to me, ‘I hate 2020’). We talk about how we can make no plans, with nothing called certainty.

We are to be forgiven for wanting to make plans. For wanting a secure future. But maybe in the age of COVID-19 we are also forced to at least pause to think about McCandless’ words: ‘nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.’

Maybe we are to be forgiven for forgetting that believing that the future is secure no matter what we do to the wild and the wilderness, that we are owed everything we demand, that life is a given and not a creation, that accident and randomness with a purpose are the operative truths of our existence, is responsible for COVID and the other spectres that stalk the planet and our so-called assured myths of progress.

But maybe we cannot be forgiven if we don’t, at last, admit that we forgot. And if we don’t, at last, remember that life is a wild wilderness, and every other else is hokum and koolaid. And maybe we can, after hating 2020, thank COVID-19 a little for jolting us out of our complacency. And for giving us a well-deserved kick in the pants in the direction of the wildness of the wilderness, where, to survive, we must learn to be sustainable while not taking this grand planet and its self-sustaining but sensitive ecosystem for granted.

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