I recently took a couple of weeks off over Easter to spend time with my family. It was refreshing to take a gentle break from work and the constant morning school rush, but towards the end of my holiday, I started feeling disconnected from the natural world. I felt a fizzing in my body. A frustration. A need to be alone.
It struck me how easy it is to slip into a state of numbness when we don't actively nurture our relationship with the more-than-human – and how this disconnect and numbing can easily become the norm.
The severance of humans from the land and the more-than-human is a deliberate act that has been happening for centuries, conditioning us to rely on the capitalist system and work for others (I will write more about this). Many of us don’t notice this severance – it has become the norm - and yet it has a huge effect on how we feel and act (hello climate change and - in part - mental health challenges).
But there are still fragments and remnants of our relationship with the more-than-human in our bodily memory – perhaps it’s stopping for a moment to watch the dust motes in a sunbeam, or the joy of seeing the first butterfly or the freedom you feel when on top of a mountain. Noticing these remnants and the discomfort of the disconnect is the start as the remnants they are the call of the wild which we can choose to listen to and act on.
Acting on that call can be challenging as everything in our culture tells us it is not "necessary" or a "luxury" (again, another blog coming on this!). When you feel that deep connection and resonance with the more-than-human, notice it in your body, create a physical memory of it – what you were doing, where you were, who you were with. This way, when the numbness creeps in, you know what you can do to return to, reignite and tend to that sense of interconnectedness.
Ten of my favourite ways of nurturing my relationship with nature are:
- noticing small changes in my landscape or home – a spider’s web, a bird with a beak full of nest material, the blossom opening
- taking solitary walks or bike rides
- sitting in a green space and going through my senses
- writing in my nature journal
- drawing and playing creatively with nature
- listening to podcasts about the humans and their love for the wild
- reading about the science, folklore and human relationships with the more-than-human
- seeing and experiencing artwork that is a collaboration with nature
- spending time with like-minded souls and loved ones, preferably in green spaces
- cooking a beautiful meal with nutritious food
Your ways may be different but I guarantee they will all have something in common: being present. Being present in the moment and appreciating what it means to be alive.
Tending to our relationship with the more-than-human is crucial. For myself, I can’t expect a quick walk around the park chatting to a friend to do the same as sitting and getting present with my senses.It is not anyone's fault that we feel numb or disconnected from nature (one for another blog), but we can do something about it. By heeding the call of the wild (or noticing our disconnectedness) and act on it. It may be challenging, but it is a beautiful thing to reawaken that sense of interconnectedness and to feel alive again. Let us tend to that relationship and keep the wild alive