I was extracted naked from the cave with eyes sunken and ribs exposed. The film crew then re-introduced me to civilization. Only once in my life did I experience anything like it—culture shock.
When I was a child, all of my senses were alive. My hands were outstretched reaching for twigs to burn and leaves to chew on during the days and eyes peeled wide open to make contact with the stars at night. My skin was accustomed to the language of the whether—a certain sweetness in the wind with each season and distinct air densities indicating either showers of sunshine or rain. Earth between my toes informed my step—a tip toe over jagged stones, prickers and critter habitats or dancing leaps moving my tiny body quickly through the forest. Always reaching new wild destinations, though to you they may all look the same. The same leaves, the same sticks, the same bugs— all thrilling because to me the context was constantly fresh. My fiery strawberry blond spirit engaged in dialogue with ancestors who told me stories of these different forest corners. This was called my 5th sense. Everything wild was familiar—that feeling of being fully awake and truly alive.
I was not meant to be tamed. Universe tried anyway.
A tree had fallen through our cabin in the woods tempting our existence in the middle of a wild storm and my parents took it as a sign to realize city dreams. This was the first time I experienced culture shock. Fake rock cementing earth. Mysterious goo dripping into precious waters. The cities fragmented “wild” – absolute chaos. Nothing belonged. Nothing made sense. My star friends were seldom seen. Instead the night skies were filled with yelling, honking, music and more human chaos. The source of people's food, clothes and all life were unknown and unnatural. What kind of tree made florescent orange cheese crackers? How could people live like this? I was a devastated. I was scared of who I would become. I was a wild child in the city.
The culture shock of experiencing such different realities lead to a fascination with creating alternate realities for people through planning wild parties. I believe it was the culture shock of my childhood that first led me to my fascination of creating different realities by organizing wildly-themed parties, allowing others to experience realities drastically different from their own as I had. This turned into a career of event planning, traveling the world in a blur of city lights and diverse faces. From the outside looking in, my life was a beautiful collection of sought after worldly experiences, albeit, something was always missing. Internally, the perfectly pictured crystals of my life I felt hardened, numbed, cold and isolated by the harsh world outside of my little realities. Sometimes I would joke "I just want to crawl inside of a dark cave and cry!" Fortunately (and unfortunately), sometimes Universe gives you exactly what you ask for...
One day I received a very interrogative call from the Discovery Channel ending with an intriguing question, could I still survive in the wild like I once had? My survival skills were in a tool box I hadn't opened for a very, very long time. In my usual spirit of saying yes to adventure I accepted the challenge. With only four-days-notice and a machete in hand, I went to live happily ever after naked in a cave.
The film crew (and soon to be the public eye of millions) silently watched as my body deteriorated week by week. Physically and psychologically I melted back into the rawest version of myself. I starved. I fainted from dehydration. I yelled. I had seizures from a vicious menstrual cycle. I cried. When the fire went out it would sometimes be days before the jungle was dry enough for another to light. Fire was life. It boiled water to drink, made toxic roots edible and cooked small critters—vine snakes, salamanders, crickets and catfish mostly. These vital calories allowed me to keep breathing and foraging. Through fire I became reacquainted with my 5th sense; dreams were more vivid and connection to spirit were heightened when the orange flicker of light danced across the cave ceiling as my bed of palm leaves held me. The stars and my wide eyes re-united. Despite my shrinking physique, I felt fully alive for the first time since childhood. It was the feeling of opening your eyes to reality after a nightmare. Wild Again.
Between the lines of all the said luxuries in my previously stated life, there are secrets. I have been deaf. I have been homeless. I have been abandoned. I have been brain washed. I have been abused. I have been broken. In the cave, I was given a choice to heal, to live and to forgive Universe for all of it, or die of overexertion. Every day, I chose to be the happiest person alive. Like coming home.
Emerging from the cave, my mind’s reality twisted between past and present culture shock. As we drove into civilization away from the jungle cave, I watched in disgust as if seeing it for the first time the humans running in circles consuming themselves. By the time I got to a hotel, the child revisiting me was experiencing sensory overload. Everything was new again and I was sickeningly nostalgic. The world paved over, the fake smells, flashing screens, and screaming machines. How could I have lived like them too? How had I been tamed? Again, I was scared to know that I would walk in that skin again. No. I am not meant to be tamed.
That night in the uncomfortably comfortable hotel my heart's flood gates poured open with a full sense of freedom in knowing that I am wild. I don't know all the answers or how this re-introduction will work, being a wild woman in the city. Again I am a caged *bird. But this time the gate is unlocked. Look closer...there is one last gem to show you...look into my eyes and you too may become wild once again.
Remember this: the key to your cage is never far, it may be in your backyard or just outside of city limits. It is time to go home now.
Get outside. Be free. Be wild.
*bird is one of the meanings of "Ava"