No one should go through life without once experiencing healthy, albeit bored solitude in the wilderness, finding themselves, depending solely on instinct and thereby learning their true nature and hidden strength.  

—Jack Kerouac

Outside of writing, I’m a pretty realistic person—practical even, in a vague sense—but when I sit down to write I go to a deep, secretive space—within myself.  When you close your eyes and dive headfirst into yourself, you’re bound to find an entirely different world.  It’s like exploring the edges of the universe, but within yourself.  And when you venture to deep and faraway places it can get very dark and dangerous, so it’s of the utmost importance that you know the way back.  

I’ve often considered thoughts to be like sunglasses for the soul: through these lenses, I see the world as I see it and it makes sense to me. It’s like a blank page with a line drawn straight down the damn middle, on one side is considered fantasy, the other, reality.  The story that follows draws that line.

If you don’t get lost in the wild, nothing will ever happen and love will never become.

“Do not go out in the wild, please don’t,” they begged.

“Why not? Why shouldn’t I go get lost in the wild this evening?” she asked.

“There’s a wolf out there who feasts on people like you. Don’t go out in the wild. Please don’t go, we mean it.”

Naturally, she went anyways.  She wandered lost out into the wild, and, of course, she came upon the wolf, just as everyone had warned her.  

“See we told you,” they all crowed.

“This is my life, not some kind of fairytale, you simpletons,” she said.  “I have to get lost in the wild, and I have to meet the wolf, or else love will never become.”

But the wolf she encountered was stuck in a hunter’s trap, in this trap the wounded wolf’s paw was caught and almost severed.

“Help me, oh please ma’am help me! Awooo, awooo!” cried the wolf.  “Help me, oh please can you help me!” he wailed, “and I shall reward you with something just and fair.” As this is the way of a wolf in a tale of this kind. 

“How can I be so sure you won’t hurt me?” she asked—it was her job to ask the questions.  “How do I know this isn’t some kind of trap and that you will not kill me and leave me to nothing but a pile of dusted bones?”  

“Wrong question,” howled the wolf. “You’ll just have to take my word for it.”  The wolf began to howl once more and again.

“Oh, awooo! There’s only one question worth asking my fair lady.”

“Okay wolf, I’ll take a chance on you. Alright, there you go. You’re free!”  She released the coiled spring from the trap and the wolf gingerly drew back his paw and the wound she went about and bound with herbs and hospitality.

“Ah, thank you kind soul. Thank you from the bottom of my suffering,” sighed the wolf.  Yet, because she read way too many of the wrong kind of tales and because of what every one had filled her head with, she quietly cried, “Go ahead and kill me now, let’s get this whole thing over with.”

But no, this did not come to pass, and it never would.  Instead the wolf placed his wounded paw upon her arm.

“I’m a wolf from another time and place,” he said. And pulling the glasses from over his eyes, gave them to her and said, “Use these, and see wisely.  From now on you will know what is good and not so good.  Just look through these eyes of mine and you will see everything clearly.  For letting me live, I bid you to love in a way as you never have before.  And remember, there is only one question worth asking.”

“What about you?  How will you see?” she asked the wolf.  

“Awooo! Awooo! That’s not a question worth asking,” howled the wolf as he vanished into the wild, still wounded, yet set free.

And so the fair maiden, she went back to her home, happy to still be alive.  And this time they all said as they always did, “just stay here and be content with boredom,” or “do as I tell you and do it now,” or “say what I wish you to say, and remain as uncreative as the day you came to be.” Then she put on the glasses and peered through them.  

She saw their motives as she had never seen them before.  And the next time the butcher weighed the meat, she looked through the glasses and saw that he weighed his hand too.  As she was approached by an apprehensive suitor who said, “I, ma’am, I am so good for you,” and through the glasses she saw that he was indeed, full of greed and good for nothing.  And in this way and more, she was saved, not from everything mind you, but from many lame misfortunes.

But more so, in this new seeing of things, not only could she see the sly, cruel, and cunning, but she also began to grow wise in her heart and soul, as she looked at each person and weighed them anew through this gifted hue from the wolf she had once rescued. 

She saw those who were kind and true and followed them.  She discerned the brave and stayed close to them.  She apprehended the hopeful and joined hands with them.  She saw bewilderment buried beneath the angry and made haste to soothe them. She saw love in the blushing eyes of a shy child and reached out her hand to guide them.  She heard suffering in the stiff-lipped and courted them with laughter.  She saw need in the man painted with a silent pain and spoke up for him.  She felt a deepening faith in the woman who said she had none and rekindled hers from her own.

She came to see all things through the rose hued eyes of the wolf, all things true and those not so true.  She saw the turning of love turning against and she turned it too.  She became keen to the beauty only seen through the eye of that which weighs the heart with the soul and not all the heaviness that holds onto pain alone.

This is how she learned that what they say is true, that the wolf is the wisest of all.  And if you listen closely, the howling of the wolf always ask the most important question—not where is the next kill, not where is the next meal, not where is the next fight?—but the most important question of all.  The only question that is right. And that in order to see both ahead and behind, one must weigh the value of all that lives, one must see the light of the soul. “Awooo! Awooo! Where is the soul?”

As she pulled her little red hood over her ginger curls, blue and wild eyed and bewildered, she stared into the wilderness ahead, and she worried about the wounded wolf. 

Get lost in the wild just once, by all means, get lost. If you don’t get lost in the wild, nothing will ever happen and love will never become.

And again, into the wild she went, with love and alone.

—Ryan Love

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