Petrus Spronk

(This is Part 2 of Petrus’ column started last month.)

A man puts the wilderness into a prison and labels it “Zoo”

It is impossible to tame the wilderness. It is impossible because without the wildness of the wilderness there would be no life. We may nibble a bit at the edges, dip our toe, but it is and can’t be more than that. Strange as this may sound, the wilderness sustains us. Not the safety of our society which merely lulls us to sleep.

The sleep of unreason. The full ‘experience of life’ lies in engaging the wilderness which surrounds us.

But we push that interface further and further back and thus enlarge our play ground. It is there for anyone who wants it.

Narrow lives are led by those who never engage the wilderness in any way or form. Including the wilderness of the mind. And don’t for one moment think that you are engaging the wilderness when you tear into the bush with a four wheel drive vehicle loaded with camping and food stuffs.

We cop out by allowing others to engage the wilderness for us. Look at the success of the various ‘survival programs’ which we view from the tamed Wildness of our couch. Or when we visit the Art Gallery where we can observe the struggle of the artists with their particular aspects of the all-surrounding wilderness. Or reading books for the same results.

When I was seven, I used to have to go to church. There I watched the priest use the ultimate wilderness, that of hell, to create the necessary fear to control his flock. (Not unlike what the P.M. was doing with the tampa boat people during an election, some time back.) While I, at the time an innocent lamb, shivered believing. Here was the first lesson which sounded the first alarm bell. It woke me up.

Wilderness is the place where life is created. The tension between society and wilderness allows the system to run smoothly. The tension of the interface.

In that particular light, look at the garden. Here an image of the wilderness can be observed, and enjoyed, in safety. The wilderness, a place of memory and imagination. When I stand at the edge of any wilderness, especially the pseudo wilderness of a garden, I am always filled with a sense of longing. Not longing for the ordered society, but for the wilderness. Gardens usually depress me because they make a promise of the wild, without the bite, and never deliver. If you feel they deliver wilderness you must be dead.

We may, on occasions, hear the ‘Voice in the wilderness’, the unheeded advocate of reform. With reform as change. As the renewing, the refreshing of society. And each time we enter any aspect of the wilderness we create the possibility for growth, for rebirth, for learning, for being and feeling alive.

The wilderness, as a place where you have not been, where you do not know. Where you cannot control. Where all you have to rely on is your skill base and your creative spirit.

The partition between us and wilderness is as paper thin as the walls in a cheap hotel. (If you don’t believe me, darken a room to perfect black and spend a day in it). We can hear the voices on the other side, we can hear the sounds made in the middle of the night. The sounds of the wild. The sounds of new life being created.

Engage and do not be afraid, less you be afraid of life.

two gravestones
‘silent’ ‘listen’
the wilderness buried
the sleep of unreason


Petrus Spronk is a local artist and author woh contributes a monthly column to The Wombat Post.