Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

Running wild

Kurt BellI received a question (below) about The Path of Wildness which worried me. It was from a young man asking if I was endorsing the satisfaction of our desires at any cost. I would certainly never want anyone to think my message is about just doing what we want to do. The Path of Wildness is simply meant to be a catalyst to action for those who are stuck in a life rut. That’s it. I would never want to offer an excuse for conscious misdeeds. I think I need to begin clarifying this.


“While we’re already in some kind of conversation, I’d like to take the opportunity to ask you a question or two about The Path of Wildness. If this is a question that you care to make a video response to, then feel free to use my name– and let me say thank you beforehand for reading. What I’m wondering about the whole idea about follow the path of your “first inclination” is exactly how far to take that. As a stand alone sentence (and in many or most contexts) it sounds in and of itself entirely fine– but it doesn’t take much time to come to the conclusion that this could end in some bad situations. For instance, I’m young, but if I were a married man, and I saw a beautiful woman who is not my spouse, it may be my “first inclination” to cheat on my own wife. I hear that you’re taking part of a new diet– but it may be your first inclination to eat unhealthy food. I suppose that what I’m getting at is that, even though The Path of Wildness is very much biological, biology cannot envision the future– it only reacts to the now. How would you respond to this?”

My response:

Hi Noah, Extremes are always dangerous and I certainly wouldn’t recommend giving up your higher reasoning power in favor of instinct. My only message in this is to suggest that people who are stuck in a rut and can’t decide what to do with their lives might just go with their gut feeling as a start. Implicit in this is an understanding that the direction might not be the best or safest but at least its a start and course corrections can be made. I’d never recommend giving up our values, intellectual capacity for reason or sense of right and wrong in favor of simply doing what we want to do. I hope that this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. -Kurt


The Path of WildnessThe Path of Wildness is easy to find
The course of a stream
Leaves blown in the wind
A beast’s track through the brush
And the direction of our first inclination

The Path of Wildness is an answer and response to a prescribed way of life which may leave some individuals with a sense that their living is little more than a series of pre-determined, step-like episodes between birth and death. The stages of living between these events: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, parenthood and senior are themselves natural and in accord with the needs of the species and most individuals. Many find their satisfaction in living this course and to these individuals I have little or nothing to say. Others though long for something more; something innate, genetic and seemingly calling. Adventure and change can give a degree of satisfaction and relief yet even these may seem too tame. To those who feel drawn to something beyond the entertainment and stimulation of senses I offer a walk along The Path of Wildness. Don’t bother penciling the event in your schedule, preparing a pack with goodies and supplies or even inviting a friend along, for this experience is along the course of your first inclination and you must surely always go alone.

The Path of Wildness Resources


3 comments on “Running wild

  1. Blackhat2005
    January 8, 2013

    Indeed, you need a place to start, and there is no better place to start when in doubt of an actual beginning.
    However, I believe most of the time, what we want by first inclination is rarely the best when this feeling is only based upon external influences and desires.
    What makes us different from animals is that we have the ability to act upon intellect rather than just what we see and want (ie the ‘now’).

    -Blackhat2005 🙂

    • softypapa
      January 8, 2013

      Hi Black Hat, My message is not for those who are able to operate with a balance of thought, value and instinct, but instead for those who become mired in too much reflection over the options before them. I get these incredibly long messages from people who want so much to embark on their dream but who seem so completely tied up in worry and consideration over all the possibly dilemmas they may face as well as opportunities they might lose out on choosing one path or another. It is to these people who are in danger of letting time and a quality of life they desire slip by that I am targeting my message. If someone wants to come to Japan (for example) then simply resolve to do it with an understanding that some things must be given up while others will be gained. Will it be the best choice? Who knows? But it’s a choice, a movement, an action to get going while the sun is still shining. My message is for these people and not for those who are already running and thinking towards their dreams.

  2. Lars Wessman (@thewaterox)
    January 9, 2013

    Aristotle had something to add here. Following the first inclination is not a problem as long as those inclinations have been “educated”. In his view, the point of ethics is not to collect a bag of arguments to build into a system that will tell you how to act, but rather to “form the soul” in such a way that one’s inclinations will be the good ones when confronted with a situation, possibly one that could not have been forseen by an ethical system.

    When I first read that meme of Kurt’s, I understood it in that context, that one’s inclinations on the path of wildness are not a chaotic mess, but something that have been subtly “manicured” in the way that Kurt talks about age wearing away superfluous character.

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