Tag Archives: Tina Howe

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?