“Rewilding of our world needs to be simultaneous with the rewilding of our hearts.” – Claire Dunn
I recently read “My Year Without Matches”, by Claire Dunn, and once I finished it I promptly returned to the start and read it all over again. That’s how inspiring I found her story.
Today, I was lucky enough to meet Claire at a library not far from where I live, where she shared her story of spending a year living in a wilderness survival camp. Burnt out from years working as a conservation campaigner, most notably for the Wilderness Society, Claire accepts an opportunity to be one of six individuals to participate in Australia’s first wilderness survival camp. Set on 100 acres of wild land on the NSW coast, she begins her journey of learning to re-engage with nature, while simultaneously re-connecting with her inner spirit.
Her adventure spans four seasons, and her story is told in the essential order of survival; shelter, water, fire and food. Spending the first few months learning essential bush survival skills from specialist instructors provides the basis of knowledge that is to be further built on by her own direct experiences. Claire will build her own shelter, learn to make fire by traditional methods, and ultimately come face to face with the realisation that her own survival will depend on having to take the life of animals as a source of food.
Claire is the sort of person who has a relaxed presence about her, yet emanates a subtle degree of clarity that comes from people who know their place in this world. By her own admission, she learnt a great deal about herself in the 12 months spent in the wild, but more importantly she learnt how to connect with the natural world. Her story is a compelling read for anyone wanting to know what it would be like to step away from the man-made world and be completely “off the grid”. And, by so doing, learn how to ‘rewild’ your heart.
Today, Claire described her new-found purpose since her 12 months in the wild, as being ‘a bridge’ from the city to the wild. She now runs work-shops designed to help connect people back to our ‘wild ways’ so that society may learn to re-love the wild places that need to be cherished and saved.
Claire writes beautifully, and with a grace an charm that shows her innate love of the wild. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who desires to take a step further into the wilds of nature, and learn what it has to offer. Perhaps even, what we, might be able to offer in return.