I love this article from the Huffington Post UK. It’s an elegant articulation of a number of complex ideas that seem to be coming together in the human psyche at the moment. I have noticed though, that there tends to be an othering of nature that happens as part of this narrative of reconnection.
I agree that it’s easier to see ourselves as part of a greater whole when we are overwhelmed by the more than human. Going to places that haven’t been obviously rearranged by human hands can be a humbling experience and that humility is crucial to the shift in consciousness that is needed. But unless we can bring that humility and that recognition of our place in the larger whole into our cities and human communities, our work will be fruitless.
This is a critique borne of my own frustration. The conditions of my life require me to live in the city and give me very few opportunities to ‘escape’ into the wilderness. I need to be nourished and nurtured by the more than human world as much as anyone but I can’t do it in the traditional way of ‘going bush.’ I am slowly developing practices for myself that help me ground my sense of connection in the places where I live, work and play. Perhaps the judge sits in my own heart but I feel these practices are overlooked or undervalued by my deep ecology friends and by the broader narrative of ‘nature connection.’ As though they are merely stop gap measures until I can get out into the ‘real’ wildness again.
If we are truly to see ourselves as part of nature rather than dominating it we need to radically rethink the dichotomy that says ‘nature’ is in our national parks and not in our cities. We need to take our hearts, awakened to wildness and use them to see the land where we live. Our great teachers in this could well be our children, the young ones haven’t yet learned to pay more attention to ‘human’ objects over non-human ones. Those of us who don’t have children may have memories of the way we used to play, the trees and flowers that drew our attention. The things that fired our imaginations and filled our hearts with joy. As Mary Oliver so eloquently put it we need to “Let the soft animal of [our] body love what it loves” and we need to do it wherever we are.
The day after my walk along Back Creek, a gathering entitled “Rewilding the Urban Heart” was advertised on Facebook – to say that I am excited would be a massive understatement.
you know I have wondered about this also but coming from a different place to you. I live in the bush and have done so for most of my adult life so it is a big thing for me to go to the city and I was asked how do we stay connected in a concrete jungle .
a few years ago I got to spend quite a bit of time in melbourne with 4 daughters living there so I got to practice – yes walking in parks and trees are great places and the spirit is alive – the yarra proved to be resilient and still held a murmurr an energy but it was also the sky the clouds the sun the moon I realised that would follow me everywhere and were always available as an earth moment to connect with but also the connection is in our hearts and when walking the crowded streets I would imagine the ground below and the ancestors in their brown skin – no matter our overlay the earth resides beneath our feet and within our hearts.
Yes! Thank you Sandra. I pass over the Yarra most days and always feel blessed by the encounter. I swear I could feel her with my eyes closed. So pleased to connect with you through SBS, you must let me know next time you’re in Melbourne.