Re-wilding the Mind, Body and Spirit – ‘My Year Without Matches’ Book Review

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This week I finished reading My Year Without Matches – Escaping the City in Search of the Wild by former campaigner for The Wilderness Society Claire Dunn.

Through her eloquently written book, Claire recounts the thoughts, emotions and experiences she had during the year that she spent living solo in the bush in an attempt to reconnect with herself and the land after being burnt out by endless campaigns and the maddening rush of city life.

Despite building her own shelter, learning to hunt and track, producing fire without matches and dealing with copious mosquitos, ticks and leeches, Claire details how the most difficult tasks she encountered during her ‘year in the wild’ involved navigating the inner landscape of her mind and shedding the emotional baggage and social conditioning she endured during her lifetime.

“I come across snapshots frozen in time, where I played nice, smiled pretty, placated, pretended. Moments when I bruised myself, turned my back on the moon, on a friend, on my heart, in pursuit of some false treasure… I remember when I willingly strapped the goals of others to my back and lugged them with tenacity along paths that were not of my choosing” (Dunn, 2014, P.205).

To say that this book had a profound effect on me would be an understatement.

It made me laugh and cry and feel as though I too was on a journey of self discovery.

It made me realise how much of our lives are spent trying to separate ourselves from the ‘wild’. We are boxed into individual houses and cars, our walkways paved and our food wrapped up in neat little packages with no connection to the land it originates from.

It made me realise how conditioned we are to act a certain way, always in the pursuit of endless ‘progress’, never slowing down for a fear of perceived failure and stagnation.

Most importantly, it made me realise that there are still people out there with the practical skills, passion, emotional resilience and determination to turn this way of living that we have created around and re-establish those almost lost connections to the land, to ourselves and to each other.

It made me realise that we need to take back the wild in all of us…

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All Photos by the Australian Geographic.

Website: www.naturesapprentice.com.au

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