The Meaning of Wild Rhythms

Deb Matlock

I have been asked, on occasion, about the name of my business. Wild Rhythms came to me out of the blue, on a hike over a decade ago. It felt right and made sense with the kind of work I do focusing on deep and sacred connection between people, animals, the earth, and the world of spirit. So, based purely on inspiration, I went to the Colorado state business office (this was before the ease of the internet) and secured the name Wild Rhythms, LLC. I walked out of the business office, official forms in hand, and thought to myself, “What on earth does wild rhythms mean?” Thus began a journey I am still taking today; a journey into the deepest meanings of both wild and rhythm.

“The word wild is like a gray fox trotting off through the forest, ducking behind the bushes, going in and out of sight.”

Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild.

I love the word wild. It brings to mind images of birds flying overhead, coyotes howling during the night, blizzards whitening the landscape, and leaves falling from trees. However, when I think of wild, I am very aware of the thoughts coming to me through the lens of my culture; thoughts telling me that to be wild is to be out of control, unruly, inappropriate, and chaotic.

Instead, I try to feel my way into the idea that wild is what we each possess deep in our souls. It is the energy of creativity showing its magical hand daily in the world. It is life, death, happiness, sadness, confusion and clarity. It is chaos and it is order. Wild is just as present in our own moments of laughter and tears as it is in the instant a mountain lion brings down a mule deer. It is not to be feared, but rather to be lived. In short, wild is life.

“Rhythm is our mother tongue.”
Gabrielle Roth, Sweat Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice.

When I think of the word rhythm, my thoughts instantly turn to people tapping their feet while a band is playing, or bodies moving to a harsh beat in a dance club. If I think a little longer, I might start to consider the sound of rain falling on a roof, or a heart beating its familiar tempo inside the body. Further thought may lead me to consider the changing of seasons, the patterns of the moon, and being completely in tune with our animal companions. Then, most likely, a sound such as a ringing phone, a car horn, or perhaps a clap of thunder will interrupt my thought rhythm and bring me back to the present.

So, what is rhythm? It is the beat to which we create the dance that is our life story. At times we are able to feel our oneness with our work, our families, our friends, our ideas, and the living world around us. At other times, we are scattered and confused. We are in different rhythms at different times, but we are always in some kind of rhythm.

According to Andrea Olsen in her lovely book entitled Body and Earth: An Experiential Guide, “Rhythm is when things happen, occurring on various time scales, from the repetitive sound of a heart beating moment by moment to the seemingly isolated eruptions of volcanoes over billions of years. Rhythm is also a way of establishing community, including human and other-than-human participants. When we move together in rhythmic interaction, we experience relationship; when we are aware of the overriding rhythms of the seasons, epochs, and eons, we feel ourselves as participants in an expansive choreography.” This quote resonates deeply with me and helped to form the foundation for the work of Wild Rhythms.

So, essentially, Wild is the essence of life and Rhythm is the force that allows us to exist. This understanding humbles and inspires me daily.