Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Call

I read Jack London's The Call of the Wild a couple months ago in the back of an Americorps truck headed down the Californian coast. For months it lived as one of those books on the shelf that remained "on the shelf" because more practical reads intercepted. With subconsciously feral inclinations, I tossed it into the duffel bag during my 5 minute packing scramble for a conference down south.

Perhaps its coincidental that bare-footing had already begun to change my life as I began reading. As I turned pages, however, the dots between my bare-foot transition and the protagonist's feral uprising begged for connection. Buck, the protagonist, begins life as a faithful house dog who suddenly enters the Alaskan wild against his will. Jack London epically describes Buck's transition from house pet to working dog - from domesticated man's best friend to feral being. Buck the feral dog finds a sense of awe inspiring ancestral homage as he begins to trot, breath, and eat in the ways of the wild. To me barefoot running answers Jack London's Call. Barefooting connects foot to earth just as bedrock records time. These truths define the wild and the Call.

During bare-foot runs the mind begins to lose personal identity as the connection between the wild grows. Evolutionary homage and ancestral spirit reawaken. No longer are you the Americorps dude who counts salmon. You become your ancestors - "the runner" - the person you were born to be. Just as Buck finds solace in the wolf pack you find heritage in your stride. You start to feel the sharp pain of errant gravel just as they did and in that moment you feel just as they felt. The run leaves you with the same scars and disposition as they. The power of these feral memories keep you excited and willing to answer the Call of the Wild at a moment's notice.

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