Where The Wild Things Are

10 Dec

“You were once wild here.  Don’t let them tame you.” -Isadora Duncan

Last week, a yoga teacher read this quote at the end of class.  And it hit me as something that is very, very true.  It reminded me of my own wildness, that I sometimes allow myself to feel and occasionally allow myself to act on and more often feel the pressure to suppress.  And it occurred to me that society does not like wildness.  It doesn’t trust wildness, and it certainly does not value or encourage wildness.

A few days later, I attended a symposium about gender parity in theatre, and playwright Tina Howe spoke about being very conscious that as a woman, when she is frisky or confrontational or wild in her writing, when she writes about ideas that society does not embrace and does not want to hear, she gets her wrists slapped (in particular, by the critics).  Which seems to be a tactic for taming.

I kept thinking about this quote, about how I feel wild inside and do not ever want to be tamed, to follow the path I’m supposed to follow or do the things I should do or want the things I’m told to want.  To feel neat, quiet feelings and never be emotionally messy and loud, and if I am, to quiet it down and clean it up fast, and if that doesn’t work then just hide it so no one can see.  To only say the things that are nice and acceptable and polite, and stuff down everything else.

Then I tweeted this quote which led to a conversation with several people on Twitter about times in our lives when we were wild.  And this got me thinking about what it means to be wild, and what the costs are of letting ourselves be tamed.

These are some times in my life I was wild:

* The night before my French final sophomore year of high school, I went to the local dive bar and got drunk on Sex on the Beaches.  I threw up that morning before I went to school and was on the verge of throwing up through the whole exam.  But I think I got an A anyway.

* The summer after my junior year, I told my Mom I was staying at my friend’s house and instead we went to Montauk with the guys we were seeing.  We sped down Old Montauk Highway in the pitch black night with the windows down and the sunroof open blasting “Ultraviolet” by U2 and my stomach did flip-flops like I was on a roller coaster.

* Senior year I cut Honors Physics class and went to the beach with two of my best friends in a red 1973 Alfa Romeo convertible.

* The same month, a group of friends including a guy I had a crush on pulled up in front of my house one night, and my crush asked me to dance in the middle of the street as “At This Moment” by Billy Vera and The Beaters played on his car radio, and I said Yes.

* Also that month, I quit my job at the tanning salon/juice bar/coffee house where I worked so I could go to a Bruce Springsteen concert because I wasn’t able to get my shift covered.  It was June of my senior year of high school, and a good month for wildness.

* When I was 19 I turned down an internship doing PR for garden supplies, and I spontaneously drove to Cape Cod in my 1972 BMW 2002 to live near the beach with my college roommate.

* At 24 I quit a job with a salary and benefits so I could wait tables and be an actress.


There were other times when I was wild on the inside, in quieter, less obvious ways that didn’t involve road trips, classic cars, and quitting jobs, but that still feel like some of the boldest, most daring risks I have taken.  Times when…

* I was strong when I didn’t think I could be

* I didn’t care what anyone else thought of me

* I didn’t give a shit about being “nice”

* I spoke up for myself and stood up for myself

* I had unwavering belief in myself

* I followed my heart even when it meant that things would be hard, uncomfortable, painful, or all of the above

* I rejected what I was supposed to do and did what I wanted to do

* I had messy feelings that I did not hide


But the boldest and most courageously wild thing I have ever done is write.  And put my thoughts and feelings and experiences and fears and hopes and self down in words.  Even when it scares me.  Writing is deceptively simple, running your pen across paper, clicking keys on your computer.  But it is scary and powerful and wild beyond taming.  As Anne Lamott said, “Tell the truth as you understand it.  If you’re a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this.  And it is a revolutionary act — truth is always subversive.”

What does being wild mean to you? Where do you feel the pressure to be tamed? When were you wild on the outside and what times were you wild on the inside?  What are your big & loud and small & quiet acts of wild rebellion?

13 Responses to “Where The Wild Things Are”

  1. Nikki C December 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm #

    I’m a little jealous, Jennifer. You did some awesomely wild things. My wild things were more conservative like sneaking my high school boyfriend in at night while my mom was at work(hence teen pregnancy, LOL). However, my times as a soldier invited many more wild and confidential UH OH’s that I choose to take to the grave! LOL. By far writing has been the wildest thing I too have done. To bust the box wide open regardless of any limitations myself or others have put on my life. I bare it all as time goes on and pen goes to page.

    ~ Nikki

  2. @fearofwriting December 10, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    This is a wild child blog post if ever there was one! :~)

    Motivates me to think up more wild things I’ve done and Tweet them with our new #youwerewildhere. Everything on both your lists was so inspiring.

    But I’ll have to think about that tomorrow cuz today is one of the wildest opportunities of my writing life. Today is the day my friend in the UK is showing my screenplay treatment to his producer friend. AND my plan to rapidly be prepared with more ideas (in response to your challenge) paid off. My friend told me to forward everything that’s ready and he’ll show it all. So I sent my second idea and now I have to dive in and fix the other two fast so they’re presentable.

    You talk about truth being subversive. Another wild thing is – the people I’m submitting to are not afraid to portray taboos in their movies. One movie in particular they were criticized for taboo-smashing. There are some taboos in my movies that scared me when I wrote them but now I’m glad I followed through. Plus, one of my treatments goes beyond the entertainment value I establish in the first two (to show I understand the game) to portray a story on a subject that means a lot to me. A subject that could even contribute to world peace – though it can also be taken on an entertainment level for those who are not ready.

    Just got an exciting message from the UK that my friend likes my second treatment as well. So great when the one referring you likes what you wrote. Whoo hoo!!!!!!! I’m going to steal your “I had unwavering belief in myself” for my motto today.

  3. j December 10, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    I love this post, thinking about the ways I was (am) wild – out loud and inside. Not all wildness is visible, but you know it on the inside, when you’ve raced outside your comfort zone and committed to being, at least momentarily, free.

    This will be the subject of my morning pages today. (I call them j-pages since I frequently don’t get to them in the morning.) Thank you for making sure I saw this one. Your wild list made me grin… and ache for a time when I was less tame. It also reminded me… it’s up to me how tame I want to be.

  4. Michael December 10, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    This is fantastic. Being a fan of all things subversive (or at least most of them), that Lamott quote made me smile largely. And, of course, the Duncan quote is wonderful. There’s something about those moments when we remember letting go, giving in to the wildness in us, that seem particularly inspiring. Like we are closer to our true selves in those moments. Like the veil gets pulled back a bit.

    Thanks for sharing Jennifer~!~ #youwereDEFINITELYwildhere

  5. Lance December 13, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    I used to think that stories of excess and debauchery were what made for “wil” times. Then, I got married, twice, and had children, thrice.

    My wildest times are ahead of me. Three years ago, only two years removed from a horrific divorce, I fell in love for the first time. It was then I realized that, freedom wasn’t just another word for nothing left to lose, but also being wild.

    Thanks to my wife, and now three daughters, I am understanding who and what I am. The wildest thing you can do is be yourself all the time, without fear of what others think. The four women I live with like my art, my stuff, my crap, and my heart. Every day is wilder than the last.

  6. @fearofwriting December 13, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Lance, your comment blew me away. Living with an open heart – that’s what it takes. I loved your precious words about your family.

    ~ Milli

  7. Sheri D. December 13, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    i just discovered your blog today and i LOVE it! i can relate to so many things you talk about here. especially the part where you say “I followed my heart even when it meant that things would be hard, uncomfortable, painful, or all of the above.” this is so important…thanks for making my day! will continue to follow your posts 🙂

  8. Holly December 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Great post Jennifer! Wildness seems to be a theme for me this week, would like to share my own recent blog post with you: Singing Rocks & Howling Wolves: http://theroaringinside.blogspot.com/2010/12/singing-rocks-howling-wolves.html

  9. Jennifer Garam December 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm #

    @Nikki – Thanks! And I even left a *few* things off my wild list, gotta leave something to the imagination… 🙂 Awesome re: baring it all and being wild in your writing!

    @fearofwriting – Thanks for the update on your WILD & WONDERFUL writing opportunities! AND so wild and badass that you followed through on what you truly wanted to write even when that scared you. I hope you keep having unwavering belief in yourself, and please keep the updates coming!

    @j – Thank you! And I loved your WILD THING blog post! It’s so easy to fall into tamed-ness, but the ache for times when we were less tame can wake us up to our inner and outer wildness again. And YES, it is up to us how tame we want to be, I love that!

    @Michael – Thank you! Something about wildness feels so much more alive, and like you say, closer to our true selves.

    @Lance – Thank you for sharing your inspiring perspective on what it means to you to be wild. And you know I love your quote: “The wildest thing you can do is be yourself all the time, without fear of what others think.” SO TRUE!

    @Sheri D. – Thank you for reading my blog, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoy it! Look forward to connecting with you in the blogosphere and on Twitter!

    @Holly – Thanks, and thank you for sharing your wild blog post!

    @fearofwriting @jdistraction @Michael – I love our #youwerewildhere conversation on Twitter! So fun to tweet with you about all things WILD!

    And if anyone else wants to join the conversation on Twitter, hashtag it #youwerewildhere and chime in with your own inner and outer wild tales and adventures!

  10. Melody D. July 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    I really like this post. I can’t believe you quit your job to see one concert! But hey, Bruce Springstein man! I also like the name of your blog, One Writeous Chick. I’m currently studying English with a minor in Professional Writing right now, and am soooo interested in having a writing career. I really like your blog!

  11. Jennifer Garam August 25, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Hi Melody, Thanks for your comment! That job was horrible and it was totally worth it to quit to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert and a decision I *never* regretted 🙂 I’m happy to hear that you like my blog, thanks for reading it! And that’s great re: studying English and writing, best of luck with your writing career!


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