If Wild Is Free

I have a black-and-white photo of my grandmother from the 1940s that I treasure. She’s dressed in pants and a flannel, kneeling in the grasses of an Oklahoma prairie, focused on something ahead. Balanced on her shoulder is a rifle of some sort. Her hair is short and curled, messy from the breeze. And though I didn’t know that woman, I knew everything that she became. I may have never seen her hold a rifle, but I recognize the spirited abandon in her eyes and the sassy curve of her mouth. I saw that look many times on her face and also in the mirror. I get that look too. 

Wild is a word that has never been attributed to me. Though I kind of wish it were. It seems to be a coveted descriptor these days. Wild is attractive, fun. The opposite is boring.

In all her glory, I imagine a wild woman is free, whimsical, and unencumbered. Not so much the “throwing caution to the wind” sort, but more the “willing to risk” or “unbothered by others’ opinions” kind. 

As a teen, I admired my friends who tossed their hair into messy buns and swapped drivers on country roads without stopping. At weddings, I am in awe of those who dance with abandon. These days, I envy those who can pull off wrists full of bracelets and yellow wedges. 

I want to wear yellow wedges.

Oh, I have an adventuresome spirit. I take risks. But mine is of a measured sort. I calculate the decisions I make. Impulse is not my style. “On a whim” is not how I roll. I feel free after I’ve done the research. 

If I’m truthful, I fear “uncontained wild” is just too messy. Especially if it looks like a carefree spirit that oozes–in dinner that never gets made, crumbs that never get swept, and dreams that keep getting pushed aside. 

I like to see my dreams fulfilled.

I wonder, is there space for my kind of wild?

Can my sort of wild follow a path of risk the way a rock climber belays? Can I enjoy a thrill while safely buckled? You know, travel in a pandemic while wearing a mask? Or start new ventures with a business plan?

If wild is a state of being, an inner freedom, an embrace of adventure, or even a spirit that says, “yes, please!” then does it really matter how it happens? Can I be all of that and simultaneously measured, calculated, and well researched? 

Recently, my husband and I purchased a parcel of hope. A very calculated and researched parcel. One day, we’ll build a home that grandkids visit, but for now, we own a camping spot. Friends came with an airsoft gun, and we lined up cans and took turns trying out our aim. I thought of my grandmother, wearing flannels in the forties on the prairie. 

If wild is free, I think I’m going to claim the name for myself. It’s my inheritance.

Beth Bruno lives in Colorado where she and her husband lead a team of ReStory™ experts at Restoration Counseling Center. Additionally, as a podcaster, author, and content strategist, Beth guides women to raise fierce and lovely teen girls. When she’s not creating something new, she and her family enjoy the mountains, traveling, and good food.