“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Homo Sapiens, the Anthropocene, Humanity: there is darkness within us.

In my comfortable Californian childhood, I learned about distant injustices and atrocities. It felt unfair that I would grow up so softly in such a harsh world. So, after university, I dove in: I traveled the world by backpack, seeking humanity’s shadow. For comfort, my mother gave me a yellowing photo of my father – bearded and sweaty, sitting at the Taj Mahal 30 years prior – on his own mysterious quest.

That photo anchored me as I sought darkness. I traveled through quiet villages on the outskirts of tragedies and genocides, both old and new. Through mountains, where wild species – gorillas, insects, weeds – struggled against extinction from poaching, pesticides, diseases. Through cities, where luxury cars cruised past gaunt people in shanty towns, almost bored with the permanence of their poverty.

I finally arrived at the Taj Mahal. As I reproduced my father’s photo – my own tangled beard and sweaty shirt replacing his in the frame – I felt an incredible relief. In an instant, I merged completely with everything that came before – with my father, with all the darkness I had seen. And I emerged from it, free from its burden. I realized every moment from that point on was my own, my future fresh and unknown. I was done chasing our shadow, and I was ready to find our strength.

We are a wild species: we hold the potential for incredible creation, or destruction. Through humility, vision, and collaboration, we can build a better balance within our societies and our ecosystem. With my one fragile and wondrous life, I will fight for our brightness.

— Eric Adamson