Once upon a time in the Wild, Wild West… we had wilderness. That was the West’s calling card. Empty spaces, rough edges, and Mother Nature red of tooth and claw. All of the majesty, all of the intensity, all of the desolation.
In the heart of every true Westerner lies the scratchy disinclination to do the ‘done’ thing and be properly civilized. We like wild. We like free. We like quirky. If we didn’t, there is plenty of civilized land to live in. We walked the roads here to find that freedom, or our parents did. At least so it was.
One day, that changed. The wilderness got softened and made easy-access. Folks came not because they wanted to look Nature in the eye, but because there was opportunity. The Westerners became Disneyfied, imitated, plasticized. But real Westerners aren’t plastic. We can’t be, it’s not in our nature.
You see, it’s not that we all look like we showed up in a surfer movie or a cowboy set. The wilderness in the heart sits as well with the woman with thigh-length hair and bare feet when everyone around her is getting Vidal Sassoon cuts and wearing heels. It doesn’t matter if she’s a peaceful soul who drinks tea from fine china and never says a harsh word… what makes her one of us is her decision to be herself and no one else.
My dad tells me that one of his cohort died not long ago. There had been a party at that man’s house every day for 50 years… I dunno why. They’d just had a party every night. For decades. That’s a very Western thing to do.
Crowds move the wild away. The wild ones get pushed into niches or move to follow the wild. Seems like the crowds think that imitating the aesthetic of Westerners on the outside makes the wild at heart. Nah, that’s Disney. Disney is buying a million dollar house and taking an IG picture with your surfboard. Real is living with 6 friends and getting up at 4am to catch the best sets of the day. Stupid crowds is having fights over the best surf spots.
I was born here. I love the crash of the surf, but the call of the wild is what resonates with my soul. For some, it’s the hustle and bustle of a crowd – for them, NYC. For others, bucolic and safe – I hear the South is lovely. And for others? The crash of a wave, the cry of the wind in the desert, the smell of pine. And for us, it is the West. We move around in search of the wild… but wilderness will always live in our souls.