Bewilderment, aka “Be Wild”
bewilderment, n. confusion resulting from failure to understand
People experience bewilderment when they are so utterly baffled by the situation at hand, they enter into a state of complete mystification. The word is a combination of the words be, “exist,” and wilder, “lead astray or lure into the wilds.” Being cast out or lured into the wilderness generally has negative connotations – a wasteland of disfavour is usually implied rather than the verdant green of untouched forest… It’s certainly a place where humans do not remain.
Regardless of whether one feels fear or excitement at the prospect of being alone in a wilderness, the metaphor is most commonly associated with a great trial, leading ultimately to either death, or deep wisdom. Initiation rites in most cultures teach us that we only become adults once we are tested in situations that have led to us feeling bamboozled, in pain, and at a total loss for how to act.
Bewilderment is an appropriate response to climate emergency / global overheating. Witnessing ecosystems failing, species becoming extinct and people in power supporting unsustainable, life-destructive systems, is not understandable. We are not yet adults.
The word also points to a way out: Partake in the state of being wild, and be reminded of your animal nature and your position within a vast, complex and majestic system, that you have no hope of ever understanding in totality… As Lakota elder Tiokasin Ghosthorse says, “We won’t save Mother Earth. Mother Earth will save us.”
We have been led astray by economic, social, educational and agricultural systems that no longer serve us. And we don’t know what to do about it. But from a place of total unknowing, in inhospitable and uncultivated places, Mother Earth can speak to us.
Here are some simple ways to be bewildered this month: