A Tale of How The Wild Saved Me
by Danielle Deering
It was a normal Tuesday morning. The music was on, our car was happy. I was sipping hot coffee as the family carpooled into the park for another long workday. We dodged bison in the road and admired rams on the cliffs as we wound our way in. The day was typical, mundane, forgetful even. Until it wasn’t.
I opened my office door and heard the phone ringing off the hook. Already? I thought to myself. Unknowing that in just a second, after answering that busy phone, my life would change forever.
Just. Like. That.
On that typical, mundane, forgetful Tuesday morning, my Dad – the utter heart and soul of our family— collapsed onto his work desk. It was over quickly. A heart attack. It came up behind him and in a single moment, snuffed his light out. His light was so bright that it was my North star. And, I felt its loss deep down in my every bone. Little did I know the journey that lie ahead. A journey that would teach me how to ignite my own light, my own north star, from deep down in the very bones that housed my heartbreak.
In the days, months, years that followed that deep and lonely loss, I ran to the wild. I was a relentless and starving woman in pursuit of feeling small against nature’s giant canvas. Over and over again, my grief drove me to tall peaks, seeking only to feel the heaviness of my loss dissipate when set against the utter vastness only a summit can offer. I laid my head against towering slot canyon walls, feeling the heartbeat of a world much greater than mine. And, at day’s end, I’d rest my busy head beside powerful, raging rivers and let my thoughts get rushed away. Time after time, again and again, I let the wild hold me, quiet my mind, and fill my soul.
It wasn’t grief that drove me to the wild. No, the outdoors has always soothed me. Still does. Even now when I can (on most days) tell stories of my Dad without my voice breaking. And trust me, he has the best stories. It soothes me in times of need and fills my soul back up when I didn’t even know I needed it. You could say it’s in my blood. Born to parents who married on a heart-shaped rock, with jagged mountain peaks standing by, surrounded by loved ones thanks only to a hefty four-wheeler that was able to fetch and deliver guests to the ceremony site. I’ve stood on that same rock, breathed in that same mountain air. And I know, deep down in my soul, the roots formed there from that gypsy souled woman and handsome, mountain man formed the human I am today.
It’s been a few years now, living without the magic of my Dad, and I still run to the wild. Only these days, I’m not starved, not searching. I’ve learned to sit with the longing of missing him and to hold space for feeling like this life and who gets to live it for how long, doesn’t always make sense. As a busy mama, wife, daughter, sister, friend … the list goes on and sometimes the cup I pour from runs dry. I turn to the wild to replenish, rejuvenate, soak my soul in the fresh air that cures all things, and I am grateful to know just where it is I need to go to gain perspective, find my balance, and fill my bones back up with inspiration for living this wild, sometimes heartbreaking, and always beautiful life of mine.
I urge you to do the same, dear ones. Find your place, soak your soul, ignite your light.