Petrus Spronk

I recently heard a story about something which happened to a friend of mine. She was driving on the highway when a large solid object fell from the truck travelling in front of her and was hit by her car. This in turn made her car airborne and an accident followed which wrote off her car. This motivated me to write the following story.

Part 1.

I recently saw two words together, arm in arm, walking boldly across an advertisement. ‘Wilderness Society’. They stopped me dead in my tracks. Wilderness? Society? How can two words, so far apart, be so closely coupled. Is a marriage between these two words possible? And what, if anything, does that mean? Opposites? Attraction? Clever set of words. Do the words ‘Wilderness Society” contain the concept of engaging, protecting or taming the wilderness? Wild…

Notes from a journey in the wilderness:

“The forest can be levelled and the roads made straight, but the wild things go deeper, beyond detection, and wait.” Janet Winterson.

Without having to join the Wilderness Society, we all live next door to or, on the edge of, an aspect of wilderness. Even in the centre of the city, in the centre of organised society, supposedly far from the wilderness.

A case in point. A wild man driving a car mounts the footpath and mows down a group of pedestrians. Wild life in the centre of the city.

Then, the other day, while driving driving along a two lane freeway, I found myself, at the same time, in front of, and behind, two huge semi-trailer trucks when I was overtaken, and roared at, by yet another big beast truck. At this precise moment I was caught in a truly awesome wilderness. The energy was overwhelming and momentarily I experienced the fear of too much, too strong, no control. It wouldn’t have taken much…..

For me the wilderness is a place of overwhelming energy, a place where most people are, and feel, vulnerable. I live on the edge of the forest. Is this a wilderness? It depends. It is and isn’t. If I enter the forest with a tent, a cooking stove, food rations, a first aid kit, a map, matches, protective (protective?) clothing, shoes, a knife, a compass, etc., it is not a wilderness, although I may kid myself that it is. However if, on the other hand, I enter the forest naked, without anything or any assistance, it turns into a wilderness very quickly.

The attraction of another wilderness. The ocean. To lie safely, gently warmed by the sun, next to the wilderness. We love to dip our toe into that particular wilderness and tease ourselves a little. Or is it maybe that we feed our unconscious by this action of stepping over the threshold of foam lace into the wilderness of the ocean. A wilderness at times both beautiful and terrifying. Here are some others:

A man stands at the summit of Mt. Everest exploring the wilderness of silence.
A man stands at the 0° point of the North Pole, doing the same.
A man, on his own, floats a boat across the ocean, exploring the enormity of waves.
A man drives his FWD beast to Daylesford and onto the forest tracks, thinking he is exploring the wilderness.
A man with a gun faces a Dingo at Frazer Island, conquering the wilderness.
Any man who claims to have ‘conquered’ the wilderness, is totally deluded.
A man, carrying his brief case, goes to work at the WTC in New York, doesn’t know how close he is to the wilderness.
A man has merely travelled through, or looked at a wilderness protected by his society’s advances, at this moment, accomplishment having left his heart, has gone to his head.

All our life is an interaction with the wilderness. It seems that it gives us life, feeds us. I live on the edge of the forest where the wilderness is just a careless match away. Wild Fire, a messenger from the ultimate wilderness. The wilderness of hell. Which brings me to our ultimate connection with the wilderness. The wilderness of death. We cannot enter it with a tent, a box of matches etc? We cannot even enter it naked. We enter it without our body. The ultimate wilderness of, of……..

The engagement with the wilderness. We seek the wilderness. We like to tease (and ourselves). We bungy-jump, we push our car to a dangerous speed or watch others do it at the Grand Prix. We swim deep into the ocean and, when home in the safety of our beds we enter the wilderness of our minds through the doors of endless nightmares. The wildness of our mind, we live in but dare not, and in the main cannot, visit. Wildness is pushed around also, as experienced in bed, when we enter the wilderness of sex, through sex.

The wilderness which creates new life.

Part 2 next month.


Petrus Spronk is a local artist and sculptor who contributes a monthly column to The Wombat Post.