For the last seven days, I've played caretaker to my friend's property in Antelope Valley.
Or, by its proper name, Fernandeno Tataviam Territory. ...Aside from the 120-mile commute to and from work, it's been a symphony of emotional purging and significant discovery.
Life out here is vast and secluded (think The Good, the Bad and the Ugly but, like, way cuter). It's more natural than most of us get on a typical weekend-warrior-hike with our buddies. The first hike I took (the trail starting from my friend's house, gradually leading into the Angeles Forest), I cried like a baby. The feeling of pure freedom rang over me like the Liberty Bell. There wasn't a passerby insight. But like our beloved carillon, I started to think of the cracks within our land's history. More importantly, within America as a system. Maybe it was the great ancestral Natives speaking to me; maybe it was heat exhaustion. Whatever it was, ignoring the moment was unavoidable.
About forty minutes in, I screamed with punches directed at the sky: "I'm free! Do you fucking hear me? I'm FREE!" Somewhere between cursing the white patriarchy and the chains of pain that I’ve shackled around my own ankles, I did feel free for the first time in a long time. As I ascended the terrain, I noticed the gentle curve in the far-off mountain range. It reminded me of how a woman's body takes shape—expressing great intention within its very presence despite its utmost subtleness. We look on, allowing the peaks and the dips of the range to take our breath away, discounting the entrails that create the habitual positive effects on us.
It seems like everyone wants to get outdoors for the Gram, but no one wants to put in the work to create a sustainable relationship with the land they inhabit. We live on land, work on land, play on land, eat, love, and die on land: everything but really get to know our land. And the kicker? This ball of rock will be here long after we obliterate ourselves. And don't think for one second we won't do it because it's coming fast. I recently listened to mystic and author Sadhguru speak. He said that if we continue on our global destruction path in about one hundred years, all of the world's insects will die. If you didn't know, we need insects to pollinate our fruits, flowers, and vegetables. We're in a rather precarious predicament, aren't we?
....Why, just the other day, I drove a golf cart to retrieve firewood; as the wind blew through my hair while vrooming back up to the house, wheels hugging the graveled road, I felt a sense of pride knowing I'd be able to provide warmth that evening for my daughter and me. Lately, we've packaged the concept of simplicity by calling it UberEats. Some would call that American laziness. And I'm not saying I don't appreciate a good Pad-Thai-on-my-doorstep-in-thirty-minutes like the next Joe, but I also know this way of sourcing food isn't sustainable for anyone, insect or otherwise.
...A funny thing happens when a woman gets outside—the sun dripping over her skin; an inhale of knowing; an expedition to gain knowledge untouched as she heads through the thicket. She goes in as one woman, never ceasing to come out as another. The benefits of being outdoors encourage self-starting, independent thinking; it takes us back to a time when using our critical thinking skills and our body in tandem helped fortify a harmonious relationship with flora, fauna, and even our men. The very words "Mother Nature" connotes feminine energy running throughout our lands, making a home for life even in the smallest spaces. Life outdoors shows us the autonomy that comes with it. Centuries ago, a woman foraged for her food along with her tribesmen, and now our mark on the world is how many times we can order UberEats in a week and tweet about it. Ladies, what the fuck are we actually doing?
Women, our sensitivity is our superpower, one that fuels the very essence of the feminine mystique. Being indoors, in the kitchen, remaining terrified to get out into the wild, to have an adventure--these are the principles put upon us by our male counterparts. "Don't go out there alone," they say. But were tribesmen saying this to tribeswomen? Methinks not! Nothing will take the place of Indigenous teachings, but stepping out on your own on any trail can be the first step.
And I'm not telling you to go completely New World wave on your loved ones, but you know, you could get off your butt and perhaps take a walk to your nearest favorite eatery if you don't feel like that foraging life is for you.