Monday, October 16, 2023
This One Wild & Precious Life
”I want to tell the truth.”
"I’m so sorry you guys, I want to finish with some optimism but I also want to tell the truth. And the truth is it’s going to get very bad. And we all need to be all in on this to give ourselves a chance."
It’s hard to categorise Sarah Wilson and her work, and that’s not an accident. Through a number of books, as well as social, business and media campaigns, Sarah has already tackled culinary health (Simplicious), physical health (the hugely popular I quit sugar), mental health (First, we make the beast beautiful) and, now, what we might call ‘spiritual health’: This One Wild & Precious Life.
It seems that ‘health’ is the thread that runs through this wide-ranging work. It’s Sarah’s concern with our individual and collective wellbeing that drives her.
On a late August heat-wave Monday night in an air-conditioned basement of Stanfords Book Shop, Bristol, fuelled by Sarah’s favourite Aussie drinks (Four Pillars Gin & Tonic and Remedy Kombucha) we were joined by 40 curious souls to talk about the wildness and precariousness of this moment that her book captures and how we can each best respond.
’The truth’ Sarah spoke of is, of course, where we find ourselves with the climate emergency, or as she phrases it in the book: the elephant in the room. This hulking great mass of a topic we’re all connected to but, for many people, somehow still feels distant, alien, and despite the increasing amount of extreme weather, still not-quite real.
In the book, Sarah reveals that nearly every climate scientist she spoke with believes they will die of climate change-related causes. Sarah asks, do we find it helpful to have this laid out so candidly? Some have described this kind of forthrightness as a relief, whereas for others it may cause discomfort. What about you?
At the start of the book, Sarah describes a collective ‘itch’, an all-encompassing feeling that we are not living as we were meant to be living, that we’ve strayed from what matters, and that we are all complicit in this. She asks, does this description of life today resonate with you personally? Is it accurate to say we’re all feeling this level of despair and that it transcends geographical, social, and political boundaries?
These are big questions. But climate startup founders and impact investors are not short of curiosity or wonder. And we love to scratch itches.
It did feel like, sitting in that book-shop basement with this worldly nomad, this earthly citizen, this creative communicator, that it was refreshing, even galvanising to pause briefly from our science and software and socials, and to look our reality—and the future it implies—directly in the eye.
There’s a risk that as focused as we are on building solutions in communities of (stubborn) optimists, that we play down the complexity, messiness and scariness of what we’re all facing. Of the crisis that many are facing right now.
It’s good to be reminded of how bad it is whilst at the same time feeling like you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. That this journey we’re all on is so much more than a new kind of career path or startup category. It is, as Sarah would say, ‘full-fat spiritual’, we’re giving it our time, our money, our talents. We’re giving it our all.
We only have this one wild and precious life.
We only have this one wild and precious world.