THE WILD SPACE is not a playful reference to The Wild Side song by Lou Reed nor the later version that accompanied my personal coming of age by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. ('...tales about LOVE and LUST and TRUST!) Though I have affection for both songs.
I discovered this reference to THE WILD SPACE last month while reading a book about the Rwandan Genocide called ‘Mirror to the Church’ by Father Emmanuel Katongole. He credits theologian Sally McFague for the term, which she describes as a characteristic, trait, or set of circumstances that give you a different point of view than the dominant culture in which you reside. “…It is the space that will allow—and encourage—you to think differently, to imagine alternative ways of living. It will not only give you problems, but possibilities.” Father Emanuel offers himself as an example; Raised in Uganda by Rwandan exiles, then educated at European Universities and employed in American institutions-his wild space is rather plain to see. But both Father Emmanuel and McFague suggest we can all carve out a wild space; a place where we feel like somewhat of an alien to the dominant conventions of our culture.
This idea resonated deeply and gave language to something I have felt for so long. I am 35 years old with three children ages 14, 11 and 9. I’ve been married for 15 years. Elsewhere in the country this is perhaps unremarkable. But in NYC? It’s straight up bizarre. So I find myself in a life stage with people several years my senior. This is one of my wild spaces. I didn’t finish college but was raised in an Ivy League University town where most everyone does. Despite my lack of degree (s) I’ve been given employment opportunities that far exceed my education/skill set, which has always left me huffing and puffing trying to keep up with the exceedingly successful people (at least by American standards) that seem indigenous to the Tri-state area. By age 35 most people have established their career path, but young motherhood halted that process for me, so I continue to plug away, trying on different vocations and exploring new possibilities and opportunities.
If you want to know where your wild space is, think about the dominant "norms" in your world and ask yourself where do you feel like an outsider and why? What in your life could be seen as obstacle or hindrance? Perhaps you can cast a new vision for yourself and to the world by owning, embracing and dare I say, ENJOYING your wild space! I’ve only recently landed in mine, but I am feeling quite at home here.